A War In Cement

October 6, 2017
By umbrella_lemons BRONZE, Elk Grove, California
umbrella_lemons BRONZE, Elk Grove, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

My mother stands tall in a faded polaroid,
Her swollen belly protruding under a protest sign and
A cigarette like a knife in her hands
I see her marching, resilience and anger pouring out and staining the black and white world around her with color
Her eyes burst and crackle with fire, oil memories
light like a match as they float to the surface-

Of my grandmother sitting unnaturally still in an old family portrait
Her black eye, a blooming purple, concealed by carefully curled and placed hair
Her fingers are clenched tight on her baby girl and,
Stiff in her husband’s arms, she sits picture perfect.

Of a whisper of a future strangled on her lips, drowned by
cement poured into her throat at the hands of a thousand different people, each one tipping the bucket further with a reprimand or a reminder

Of how her grip didn’t protect her daughter from the cement
Years later it is still threaded with condescending reminders
That in order to be comfortable
she must police herself
That to be happy
she must choose a nice set of chains
That the collar she is forced to wear should be draped delicately around her neck in a string of pearls,

The resounding echo of their bitter words screech that the only way she could leave her fingerprints on the world
Was by leaving children

My grandmother tried to be a shield because she was taught she could never be a soldier
My grandmother never realized that she belonged to a particular battalion, fighting the war she was born to, against those that she was made shackled to

My mother learned differently, and
Hungrily absorbed the idea that she wasn’t born to be an incubator
And she stands tall against the world.
She taught me to storm this battlefield with our weapons drawn.

You battle and fight and parry,
you cut a slice out of my shoulder all while trying to convince me that this is not war
Your ignorant cries and calls to stop this modern revolution fall on my deaf ears because this revolution is not modern
This wanting for equality-at its most basic, a desire to be rid of abuse is not modern,
And neither are your objections

I strike and stab and seethe and you roll back
You tuck your poisoned blade under you and cry for the help
That you never gave

My mother stands tall in that photograph, the same stance I take
as I stand against you
Fighting like she did and
Like my grandmother tried to
We stand together and I hold my knife to your throat
And we challenge the rock and ground you stand on
The same haughty position that fills our throats with cement
The same power stance that will not cement my daughter

The author's comments:

I wrote this piece to try to convey how female empowerment has changed throughout modern history.

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