I do not question the muse. Even when she arrives, as she did in the early morning hours, with words and ideas and images to play with.
No. I rise up and heed her calling, if only to clear my mind so I can fall asleep again.
I wrote the framework of this poem at 2:30 this morning and worked on it again when I arose (for real this time) at 6am.
I do not like to label my words, or put them in a box called… feminist, or militant, or any other constructs we use to name the ways of women and their allies that fall beyond the allowable places women have been allowed to inhabit. Those names are seeds that have been planted and cultivated throughout time by the pervasive nature of this patriarchal world we inhabit.
I prefer to write them out and give them space to be present. An expression of something deep within me seeking light, form, voice, substance. Something created to give me pause, to wonder, ponder, devour and hold up to the light to see through all that has appeared, all that is happening into the essence of all that I have divined, all that I have experienced, all that I have left unsaid that is calling to be said, now.
Recently, while on a Zoom call with a group of men and women, I felt compelled to draw attention to something that was being said between some of the men that caused me discomfort. Their conversation was rife with sexual innuendo. It felt totally inappropriate.
In the process of thinking about speaking up, I felt my heartbeat quicken, my throat constrict, my body tighten with fear.
“Why am I afraid to speak up when what is happening is not reflective of the best of our humanity?” I wondered.
I didn’t want to say anything, I wanted to pretend as I have done too often in the past, that ‘boys would be boys’ and what they were doing was harmless.
But it wasn’t harmless. Along with making others feel uncomfortable, it perpetuated the patriarchal concepts of allowing ‘boys to be boys’ because, “It’s a man’s world baby. You better get used to it.”
And so, still quivering inside, I took a deep breath and spoke up.
This poem rose up out of hundreds of such conversations and encounters I’ve endured, and too many women I know have also endured, without speaking up or drawing a line to say, No More.
PS. In speaking up, others spoke up too — and that felt empowering. One of the men immediately apologized and others wrote to thank me for drawing attention to something they too believe needs to change.
I am grateful. In speaking up, I am reminded, every voice matters and when we give voice to what needs to change, we create space for change to happen.