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Women Are Moving

by Janice Mirikitani

There are women who are moving.
There are women who have said what must be done:
            Our grandmothers who carried us on their shoulders,
            wove memories of prisons/canefields/refugee camps
    without self pity.
            Our mothers/mine who stood in a River of Silence
            snuffed her dreams and stilled her life, incarcerated in
            World War II internment camps, solely because of ancestry
            would not speak of it for  40 years, until FOR JUSTICE,
            SHE BROKE HER SILENCE, HER TONGUE AFIRE.
 
Mothers/Grandmothers, we know we are here today
            because you gathered your dreams, your songs, our destiny
            in the wing of your arm, in the bow of your back,
            We will not forget you, we cannot be still.
 
There are women who are moving.
            These faces are you/me,
            dark, light colors of all earth.
            legs skinny/short/fat/long
            stretching legs/muscular marching legs,
 
There are women who are WE, with tongues afire…
            Mother who cradles a son, dying of AIDS, 
            Daughter, who’s abused, leaves her addicted mother,
                       another homeless teenager…
           Sister who breaks the silences of incest, rape; breaks the cycle of violent men,
           — SHE IS WE, rebirthing ourselves, TONGUES AFIRE.
There are women who are choosing.   recovering from addictions and passivity; powerlessness;    WOMEN WHO ARE GATHERING… to fight guns
and senseless death:  children killing children, hate crimes, & racism’s neglect. 
 
            There are women who are weeping
            In Bosnia, mothers keen for their dead children,
            In Rwanda, they struggle no less loudly for bread and freedom.
            In Hiroshima, the salt of HER TEARS mingles with HERS
            in San Salvador, Sierra Leone,  Bhopal, Bagdhad,
            in Tienanmen Square, and HERS in the hospitals of Harlem,
            Colombine, Laramie, Jasper, Los Angeles, and OURS in too many
            other cities where more infants die
            than in any other industrialized country.          
But the women are marching, women are moving…
Women are dancing to a language that all understand—
            from our shelters and sweatshops, from field, and factory, cannery, Concentration       
            camps,  senior citizen and new Immigrant ghettos, 
            from kitchens, and bedrooms, offices, senate chambers,
            school rooms, board rooms,
            TONGUES  ARE AFIRE.
We are joining for justice to fight breast cancer, AIDS,
            sexual harrassment, workplace discrimination, 
            unequal pay, and concrete ceilings.
 
We are dressing our shoulders with power.  From them we lift up our legacy…
            My daughter tells me
            of peer pressures and insecurities.
            We speak of woman fear, self sabotage, suicide.
            I tell her I thought at one time I would never reach 40.
            Not me, reckless, chain smoking high diving, fast driving,
            pill popping, college student.
Then I thought IT WASN’T COOL to reach 40.
            slogan yelling, war protesting, gin drinking, yellow power fisted
            revolutionary.
Now that I am well past 40, I tell my daughter,
            PLEASE, if I ever talk about suicide, remind me that I am terrified of
            heights, needles, Los Angeles traffic, bladder Infections,
            and home canned beets.
Now I just want to live each day to enjoy
            my hot flashes, and mood swings, crave my discarded cigarettes,
            fondly remember (when I can remember) a time of effortless slenderness.
            I tell her of my need for justice,
            for my husband to embrace me, and to see HER FACE
            that reveals the miracle of rainbows, the goodness in me,  
            a circle that continues, and my hope of a world for her
            that breathes cleanly, with equality, freedom to choose,
            and freedom from war.
            For our daughter’s children, we must be women moving, women changing,
            more than ever, joining together.
The power of this love, Ignites us from Inside:     
            From the torches of our tongues, ALL IS LIT.
                        the stories, songs, testimonies, poems,  chants, legends,
                        the witnessing.
            THE FIRE IN OUR LEGS, stretching to the march.
 
WATCH OUT:  Women are moving, WE ARE VOTING,
we are marching we are changing, we are choosing, we are leading
We are moving.