A love letter to women

Photo by Rose Renolla

I’m sorry they made you believe 

you didn’t deserve that little, black dress

because of the shape of your body.

I’m sorry they made you cover up

to protect their delicate sensibilities.

I’m sorry because you had to stiffle your spirit,

you couldn’t shout,

you couldn’t curse,

you couldn’t get mad

without being accused that your guts are spilling

from your mouth.

I’m sorry you were silenced.

I’m sorry your body is like a caged bird – 

however hard you try to spread your wings,

the bars keep holding you in.

And I’m sorry they always confuse you –

I’m sorry they tell you you don’t need the accents on your lids

but they don’t care enough to tell you

that you are beautiful

without your war paint on – 

and so you keep skipping back and forth

the line between 

basking in your natural glow

and needing your layered masks and bloodied lips.

I’m sorry they insist on measuring your worth

by your plumage,

or the weight of your body,

or thickness of your legs,

or the pitch of your voice.

I’m sorry you were made to feel like your worth had to be measured,

when in fact you are weightless and capable of defying gravity

when you fly.

I’m sorry they said your wings aren’t strong enough

to endure the flight towards the sky,

that you were robbed the freedom

to feel the wind beneath your wings.

And I’m sorry there aren’t enough people speaking for you

when you find your voice trapped by your gilded cage.

I’m sorry there aren’t enough people 

fighting for you to be free.

I’m sorry you’ve been designated as prey

or pet,

or decoration,

or property.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

And it’s probably hard for you to believe

that you are free,

when you’ve been living with all the restrictions

that’s been weighing down your wings.

And I’m sorry for that too.

But you should know,

that once a bird, always a bird.

They can put you in a cage

but that won’t mean 

you’ll forget how to use your wings.

Gather your strength

and bid your time.

And when it arrives,


Fly and never look back.

Go back to the wild

where you can screech and claw and hunt

spread your wings

go wherever you want to go.

No one owns you.

You were never meant to be caged.

Dance to Liberty

It starts as a whimper,
forty pennies shoved down your throat –
payment for your silence.
As with medicine, you taste the bile
but you keep it down
valuing its life source.

It starts as an inaudible whisper
that even your ears can’t hear.
You catch yourself mid-sentence,
knowing you can’t cry wolf
for the thirty-third time.

It starts as the emptiness
you feel thriving
at the pit of your stomach,
slowly breathing itself
onto your pores.

You have sung yourself
songs of survival
to keep the darkness away.
But it is lacking
for it gives just enough
and never a drop more.
For you to open your eyes,
but not to look around or gaze at the sun.

You sway along
to the rhythm of your mundane,
while also carefully picking
at pieces of yourself.
An inch of flesh for every reason
you ought to swim in your own mediocrity.

Sometimes songs change their tempo
as they get closer to the end.
Dissatisfied and bored
by their tired, old routines.
The beat picks up;
you learn to dance along to it.

It starts out as a song of survival,
the stink of resignation to your fate
permeating the very air you breathe,
stamping itself onto the tips of your fingers,
so everything you touch smells like it.
But it picks up, slowly, driven by a hunger.
Teaching steps unsteady, unfocused,
but galloping away from what the soul says is wrong.

This is how one dances towards liberty.