Thursday, 19 October 2017

Half the Hurricanes

by Evie Groch

Born a female, I was handed
a manual of low expectations,
and warned to adhere to them.
A bullseye of shame on my back
marked me a target for arrows of
insults, regrets, obedience, demands.

I was offered tools of my trades,
choices they called them:
            a typewriter and steno pad
            a starched white hat and thermometer
            a blackboard and a ruler

But the manual didn’t list them all. It never warned me about
            my appearance
            my dry cleaning costs
            my ignored voice
            my few publishing options
            my diminished reproductive rights
Here I stand and wait.

Half the hurricanes bear our names,
a step up from having them all blamed on us,
but that is where equality ends.
Resentment planted a seed in me.
It fed on bitter nourishment
and thoughts of wrongs replayed.
Justice is a victim of inequity
and vengeance is its mate.

I’m still here and waiting.

When you try to mansplain to me
the stench of double-talk rises
and wakes me out of love.
We’re overdue for new
Thou Shalts and Shalt Nots.
Laments sent up to heaven’s door
evaporated on the way.
Are you with me? Not yet?

I’m still here and waiting.

You’re being addressed.
Don’t look away.
Face me, tell me why this is,
and then tell your mothers, wives,
sisters, daughters, nieces, granddaughters.
Answer carefully as you squeeze out
what is left of your words from an almost
empty vocabulary tube.

But I am still here and waiting.

You know what’s coming.
A look of mortification kidnaps your face
as you reach to cover the chinks in your armor
bracing for a joust.

I am here still and waiting.

Your stale advice of “give it time,”
“it’s God’s way,” and “look how far
you’ve come” attracts sneers like
decomposing clich├ęs. It’s mean-spirited
and deserves to shrivel up like a slug in salt.

Yet I’m still here and waiting.
Are you ready yet?

Heed my words. They crescendo
from a whistle to a roar
and become deafening when unheeded.
Take them not in vain.
They are my legacy.

Stop battering me with your fists
dipped in self-righteous confidence
of knowing what’s best for me.
I invite you to stand by my side
and call me friend, sister, peer, equal,
names you would want the women
in your family called.

I’m still here and waiting. 
I’ll come round again whether
you are ready or not,
like the hurricanes which bear our names

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