Sister (A Declaration)

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman”

In 1969, Tammy Wynette took that declaration to the top of the Country charts. For very different reasons than her lyrics explain, the statement rings true for women in 2018.

If ever there was a time for us to come together in sisterhood and stand up for ourselves and each other with the fire we’ve been persecuted with, that time is right now.

This piece I’d like to share with you speaks to these times. It speaks of my feelings towards the heroic women of all ages, colors, and identifiers that are fighting against a system that makes millions off our degradation, assimilation, subordination, and even death.

I hope it also speaks of how important it is for us to love and support each other, whether we are an arms reach or an ocean away.


 

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Sister (A Declaration) 

Sister, I don’t know you,
but I love you.
I love you the way a child loves a superhero.
Eyes wide and mouth agape
Waiting for the next little drop of heroics to fall into their eyes
I love you not just as an inspiration
but as a causation
Like the lore that leads them to discover the powers they own,
hidden behind their school uniforms.

I love you the way a match loves friction,
The ripping of wound that starts a flame.
You remind me to take what I’m holding
And use it to destroy.
Destroy their words, turn their hate to ash,
Blister skin that dares touch me wrong.
To grow and become a force
That can wipe out all life
And leave it fertile for the next generation.

Sister, I love you the way the tree branches love a hard freeze
Bending to new angles, bearing more weight than they planned
The moment before the snap,
before the break bearing the meat of the tree
That’s the moment I love you for showing the strength in me

I love you
But I don’t know you
Your name is not one I can recall out of habit
Like the phone number I had as a child
But the feeling of your hands on my heart,
your fingers in my hair,
The gold of your kintsugi
Are all home to me.

I can not name your favorite color
Or what song you listen to in the car while you
Build courage out of toothpicks.
But I see the fire in your eyes
And it’s holier than the fire they burned us with
When we were both witches at the stake.

Sister, I need you.
I need a strong woman to hold me
When I can play that role no more.
Like a bridge bound with rope
We will sway in the wind together
Holding up and reaching out into the unknown
With delicate dedication.
The future can only be female
if we as a team
Decided to bloody the brows of those that stand against us.
Four fists are better than two.

I do not know you as a lover,
Or as a mother,
Or as a friend.
I know you as a sister.
I know you as I know myself
Which is in a cloudy way.
I know your DNA as if it were my own
Strained through a colander made of expectation and grief.
Forced to rebuild itself in a more uniform way.

Your fight is my fight
And my will is your will
And like the moon,
the wind, and the face of Mars
I don’t know you
But I fucking love you.


 

I love you, sisters.

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

Declined: A (Self)Love Story

 

I was getting a jump on cooking dinner when I got a notification that I had a new email. Normally, I would glance at my lock screen to see who it was from and make a mental note to check it later. But this ended up being different. It wasn’t just one of those crap spam emails that flood my inbox (No, Directv, I’m not coming back! Leave me alone!). It was from a literary magazine I had recently submitted to. I had found their call for submissions via the Discovery tab on Submittable. It was a call for a piece of poetry that contained certain words. It seemed like a fun little challenge, so I crafted up a piece and sent it their way.

When I was able to pull the pan off the burner, I opened my Gmail app. This was what I was greeted with (the name of the publication has been removed):

Dear Angela,

Thank you for your submission to XXXXXX Magazine. After careful consideration, we have decided not to select “Before?” for publication. There are many possible reasons for why a particular piece isn’t selected, and I regret that I am unable, given time constraints, to offer further explanation as to which of those reasons applied to your work. I will say that you’re in good company; as always, there were many authors and many pieces that I would have liked to include.

Now if you know me, you’re probably thinking I’m crushed. And there was a time, not even that long ago when you’d be right. Were I the Angela of a handful of years ago, I’d be sitting here in a pit of despair. My self-confidence, shakey like a young deer on ice, would have been completely annihilated. I would probably be ugly crying and thinking that the voice in my head, which sounds like a really weird combination of two women, was correct. I really couldn’t get anything right. I was a sham who would never know what I was doing.

But that’s not happening. What is happening is surprising.

 

I’m okay.

Actually, I’m more than okay.

I’m good.

I feel proud of the piece and, more importantly,

I’m proud of myself.

So what changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t feel the cut that this declination would have once made.  Don’t be mistaken, it’s not a misplaced apathy type of feeling. It’s not the depression I’ve grown like a bonsai tree my entire life filling my head with nihilistic whispers. I just legitimately don’t feel this is a failure.

This year, I’ve come into my own when it comes to my writing. I’ve tried new things, forced myself on shaky limbs, and learned to work within my own voice. I’ve also forced myself to become dedicated. I’ve developed a discipline to keep the hot or cold switch in my head in the right position. For years, I’ve wanted to do this. I’ve wanted to create words and ideas that I could share with people. And now I finally am.

This rejection is a good thing. And I’m not trying to blow smoke up my own ass here. I really, truly think it is. I’m showing myself I’m able to face the chance that I might not be everyone’s cup of tea and accept it. I’m flexing the muscle of my psyche that’s matured into an IDGAF self-content woman. So what if the piece wasn’t what the magazine was looking for? It was what I wrote. It was what I created. And even if it fucking sucks, in the moment of its creation, it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

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Not all wins are trophies, championships, or acceptance letters. Some victories, and often the best ones, are the ones that ignite inside of you. There the ones that people can only see when they catch the glint of determination and self-appreciation in your eyes. They are the ones you will never have a newspaper clip out of, but will always remember.

 

 

And those are the ones current me strives for.

 

 

 

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PS: In case you’re wondering about the piece itself, I’ve included it below. The designated words to use are still in bold so you can see what I was working with.

 

Before?

Not lamp, but light
The kind of brightness that prys eyes apart
The nightstand is long since emptied
Pictures gone, now filled with medicine bottles and phone chargers
Was this what life was like
Before?

Her electrical current is no longer current
The coil has thus been shuffled
But damned if she doesn’t still make
The hair on the back of my neck stand at attention
That’s the only attention being served these days

The TV never stops, but I don’t know what’s on
It’s just lights without sound
I thought I had turned it off
But it’s talking heads keep the remote hidden
So I can’t check for sure

I know that pain is a real thing
But feelings elude me
How much longer must I endure?
Eight weeks dead might just as well be eighty
Is this what life was like
Before?

 

Inheritance

My family medical history reads like a Cause of Death report

Any one of the illnesses I’m set to inherit

Would be the case close decision

For any dead body in any morgue

Anywhere

And if the high blood pressure, diabetes,

And likelihood of breast and/or ovarian cancer

Doesn’t clock me out early and in excruciating pain

Those genetic mental illnesses will

Double dipped chicken fried depression

Enough borderline to go over the line

[see what I did there?]

With more than a dash of attention deficit disorder

And some potential schizoaffective disorder for good measure

And I’m not even including those addictive personality traits

that course through my family tree

Like sap in the spring

Not that I was ever given any assistance

In learning how to deal with these second-hand things

No one taught me about eating right or exercise

Or even addressed calming techniques to quiet

My brain speeding around like an energy drink loving hamster on a wheel

But my mom did teach me

That chewing up Vicodin makes them work faster

And that drinking beer with a Twizzler is super funny

Both of those lessons came before I turned fifteen

I also learned that it’s okay to throw up after you eat

Its okay to do that in the Ryan’s Steakhouse bathroom during a rare family night out

And that its ok to take so many Oxys that you don’t hear your daughter calling

Or remember how to sign your name on her brand practice logs

I know I won’t be inheriting anything grand when my folks die

At most a couple of used cars,

Maybe an old goat or two

And a trailer overflowing with pill bottles and dust.

And that’s okay,

They’ve already given me enough

 

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