Leslie's Voice

Moving Forward with Poetry and Prose

All of the Sirens will be Marching tomorrow. Some in DC, and some in our home states. People all over the world will march with us. (Will you?)

To commemorate these marches, “espnW asked five poets and writers from around the country to reflect on walking, marching, resistance and movement.” These poems and essays by Meg Day, Ada Limón, Mahogany L. Browne, Allison Glock, and Jessica Jacobs remind us what it means to be women, of our duty to ourselves and our sisters (and the world).

Day asserts our persistence to our objective:

March // like your sisters are dying. March like / your planet is through. March like your own // life depends on it & march knowing / that marching can’t save you. March // so they know we’ll still get up / & march tomorrow morning, too.

Limón captures the “why” in our hearts:

We do this moving for each other, / for the future woman who wants to unzip / that suffocating uniform she’s forced into / by self-preservation, for the mothers / that raised us not just to speak, but / to speak up, for the women who lift us / when our bodies fail, for the men who lift us / when our bodies fail, to exalt this body / alive, unsinkable, unfettered, who has been / marching all of her life.

Browne describes our goal:

Let us torch the same cages that restrict us / Let us shred each bond against the sharp bridges with our teeth / Let us gather their ashes to smear across our cheeks / Let us echo into the hollow of our hands a thunderous life / Watch it reach the sky, this yellowing wingless prayer, cockcrow reborn electric // Together we call the rain to wash away the hurt, the howl & the dust, each weeping praise; // a reclamation of what has always been rightfully ours.

Glock addresses our refusal and rejection of our new reality:

I refuse to unsee what I have been shown. / To pretend something is not what it is. / This sounds small. / It isn’t. // I recognize who benefits if we are confused / If we are unclear / If we are off-balance / If we are afraid / If we are split from the herd by our otherness. / Hint: not us. (Not anyone, really.)

Jacobs paints an image of what we expect for tomorrow:

But if fish together form a school, and starlings a murmuration, then what do you call a group of marchers? If you’re against them, likely a mob; for them, perhaps a movement. A movement — a beautiful collective noun that describes both what it is (a force for change) and what its constituents do to make that change happen.

On Jan. 21, thousands of women of different beliefs and backgrounds will march together in the direction of that change, asserting that “Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights.” Among them, I imagine women beginning conversations with the strangers marching beside them, women who on the surface seem worlds away, and recognizing the divine soul in each, as well as the soul in herself, recognizing how, together, they might move forward toward a better version of themselves and this country.

This is what I’ll think of on Jan. 21, as thousands of women join in the streets and raise up their voices. Together, they will march for change and, in turn, will be changed by marching, carrying that movement back home with them.

Some days art is our savior. Today is one of those days. Read these beautiful, powerful words in full here.


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