We were never free
On Now: Ill-starred from the start, we are drenched in a violent longing
My dress pulled up to my breasts, warm gel on my stomach, the woman glided — searching.
“It’s a boy!” she said.
The relief, it came like a rapture, and escaped from my mouth in a laugh.
The relief that I wouldn’t have to watch my daughter struggle and fight and yearn for rights she should already have, rights she’d be robbed of as she grew.
I wouldn’t have to teach her how to survey her surroundings at the turn of every corner. How to hold her keys just right when she’s walking to her car. How to look behind doors in public restrooms and listen for footsteps. How to watch her drink and her purse and her back. How to listen to her gut when she has a bad feeling — call for help, scream, RUN, cut their motherfucking throat.
I wouldn’t have to try to make her believe that she matters in a world that does everything to convince her that she doesn’t. I wouldn’t have to tell her that no matter how hard she worked, she wouldn’t earn what was due to her. I wouldn’t have to tell her that her body is not her own. I wouldn’t have to tell her that the world won’t stop until it strips all of her rights from her, one by one, a slow rape.
I wouldn’t have to tell her that the country we call home has its hands around our throat. I wouldn’t have to tell her that living means staying alive and smiling even when it hurts. I wouldn’t have to gaze over all her grief while she demanded a hope that’s already dead. I wouldn’t have to weep into her hair as I said, I’m sorry, your life will always be hard.
I sleep with my arms crossed over my chest like a corpse, protecting my heart. But it doesn’t do any good. My feet, restless, make a fire against the sheets. The future is so goddamn dark. It’s a man with no face who has come for the reaping.
The night collapses into me, and fear is a bag over my head. The birds are not resting. Ill-starred from the start — from the womb, we are drenched in a violent longing for a life that seems, for now, unreachable.
The fate of women, pacing the centuries — we were never free.
The road is long. A mountain that touches the parched sky. Our legs are aching; our heart, weary. I can see the darkness worn around our eyes. But we cannot stop. Can’t they hear our screaming? We will not stop. Our foot is in the door.
If you need a lighter read, consider this piece I wrote to my son when he turned seven months old.