Where are they?

I wrote this poem a couple years ago, and added an addendum yesterday. Sadly, I imagine there will be more in years to come. Wanted to post it before International Women’s Day on Saturday… since I am sick and not able to read it in person– missing, myself– anyone who would like to share it at a Women’s Day event has my blessing.


Missing Women

There are women missing
From this page.
Their names have been erased.

Those girls— gazelle-like
Plodding, fiery—
Who married men and vanished
Into kitchens, laundries, nurseries,
We’ve lost their sisters too,
Either chaste or fallen,
To the convents of oblivion.

Those other girls who spoke too loudly,
Dressed too brightly, thought too boldly
burned like comets in the night
Writers, thinkers, artists, mystics
We called them by some other names
“witches , bitches, too big for their britches”.

There were those who sold themselves
But whose lives were stolen
On the Highway of Tears,
Their names obscured
In a rising dust
their bodies hidden somewhere
from the headlights of our fears.

Some disappeared before they were born
absent from the human swell
That floods the River Ganges,
And the rice paddies of China-
All those nameless ones.

Others hide in plain sight,
Burka –bound,
Only their eyes
Alert, alive
Not hidden from the gaze of men.

The missing women
Whose names have fled this page,
I write this for you
In your absence
And imagine you
Shiny-haired in moonlight
Closing the books that contain
The stories of your disappearance,
Standing in the shadows
Among us, the silent sisters,
The missing ones.

ADDENDUM– March 5, 2014

There are women missing from this poem
Anna Mae, Loretta
dumped from your bodies
like so much earth

the women who were men once,
or who live as men
behind the fragile curtain of their sex
the same curtain
that hides us from ourselves

the girls who
brief as lightning
shared their flesh with enemies
behind a screen,
who hounded them to death.

Those who strangled
when we looked the other way

Retaeh Parsons
Ashley Smith
Amanda Todd

They took your hands
Anna Mae Aquash
graceful warrior

we miss you

Loretta Saunders,
little laurel, pure
your name inscribed now
in the book of earth
so many
wild and
flint-eyed readers,

by Anna Quon

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