A poem reflecting on the feminist work at WIRE
I’m writing a letter to feminism: a love letter,
A letter of longing, a letter of hope,
A letter of rage, a letter of solidarity.
There are echoes of us all through time,
My fingers on these keys are at the same time
Charlotte Perkins Gilman in her yellow wallpapered room
And audre lorde and bell hooks and maya angelou
Writing i know why the caged bird sings
And sojourner truth asking ain’t I a woman?
That woman connection of sisterhood or motherhood,
Birthing know-how and herblore
the witches on the edge of the forest,
those that walk the paths of madness.
The two-spirit folk and the Khwaja Sara;
We are all connected, and each of us has a tale,
Thorns among roses, pain sharp or dulled.
I remember as a teenager reading about Frances Farmer
And knowing that I risked her fate, too bold, too loud,
Too proud, not soft enough, insufficiently malleable,
Loved other bold, loud, proud girls in their soft bodies,
Stolen kisses under Haley’s Comet’s light.
(And also secretly I am Walt Whitman with his wild yawp
And his lithe maleness and his fierce celebration of man-love;
That too is me, O my captain. There are no longer adequate pronouns
For I contain multitudes)
The personal is the political but I don’t want to dwell
On emotional abuse and how I was forged in neglect;
I am more a child of Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf
Than I was ever a child of my father’s; talk to me about
My resilience — I am a phoenix rising over and over;
I rebuild myself anew each day as do we all.
Nobody ever said this was simple. That ‘us’ versus ‘them’ rhetoric
Is such a trap — there are layers on layers and we are all
Multifarious, vivid and ourselves existing within structures
We did not choose. It’s not you; it’s not me; it’s not ‘them’;
In the end, it’s all of us, together along axes of connection.
The similarities must be where we can speak to each other.
We’ve spent half the night kvetching about the hardships
Of being female and navigating the wilds of this crazy world,
That unless you win the jackpot in the spinning wheel of life
And somehow dodge any form of mental or physical illness,
Somehow manage to meet someone who loves you and
Never raises a fist or gaslights you; somehow avoid the acid–
Throwers who punish girls like you who are too damn free;
Somehow avoid the bullets shot by those who would destroy
The Malalas of the world —
This is a self-conscious letter of interstitial intersectionality,
An epistolary missive that will never be sent —
A radical act of self-care
(Image: Audre Lorde lectures at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 1983. Photograph: Robert Alexander)