Why I March

womens-rights

In the last few months, I’ve started but never finished several posts and poems that try to somehow capture what’s going on in my head and heart since the American election. I think these false starts were probably just because I felt, and continued to feel, so overwhelmed with emotion and berated with information and misinformation. Some days I think “I will not read, listen to or watch anything political” and hope that will bring me peace of mind. But it doesn’t.  So then I try to engage fully, read widely, discuss with anyone willing, rant and rage , and hope that will bring some relief.  But it doesn’t.

This morning I read an extraordinary essay by Rebecca Solnit.  If I could write even a tenth as good as Solnit, or if I had her insight as an actual American, I think this is what I would want to say. I shared the article with my Dad, and other family members and friends, because as intelligent and empathetic as the people in my circle are, I sometimes get the sense that they don’t understand why I’m taking the election results, and all the insanity that’s followed, so personally. Honestly, I don’t exactly know either, but I do know I cried several times the day after the election and a few times since, simply because it was the only emotional reaction that seemed to fit the combination of anger, and disappointment I felt inside. And I’m not normally a “crier”.  But then again, nothing about the world feels quite normal.

After watching the Trump press conference yesterday, I was an angry, aghast mess. My Dad got an earful on the phone just for simply calling to say hi. I told him I planned to go to the Women’s Solidarity March in my city, and planned to bring my daughters. When he asked “why?” I went off a little. Not at him personally, for I know my wonderful father is no misogynist, and was more just asking about the logistics of taking kids and myself out to a politically charged place in the winter cold. But the question “why?”, combined with the reading of this article, did spark some need to express, or at least try to express, why the anger, the sadness, and the resistance matter.

I am going to that march on January 21 because these issues certainly don’t stop at the American-Canadian border. Because there is a new wave of misogyny surging in my province. Because I have daughters, and hoped (still do hope) that the cards will be a little less stacked against them as they grow up. Because it’s 2017. Because as angry and ranty as I’ve been about all of this since well before Trump was “elected”, my overwhelming feeling is still sadness. Because I have always been an optimist at heart, and I have to do something to restore the belief in my heart that the world is good.

I know my personal world is good. I know I am surrounded by beautiful, smart, loving people. The very fact that I feel safe enough to express these thoughts speaks volumes about how good my personal world is. And sure, if we choose to view the world through the lens of how women and minorities are treated in other countries, or how women and minorities were treated in the past, then we might be left with this feeling of “I really shouldn’t complain.” But to see privilege as a reason not to speak out, rather than the very reason you should speak out, is wrong. And to think that ground once gained cannot be ripped out from under you is foolish. And because wanting  the world to be fair and safe for everyone — not because of who or what they are or aren’t, or what they do or don’t believe, but because they are people — is something worth fighting (and marching) for.

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Poem: Demeter in the Kitchen

Sometimes my dreams are almost like found poems. I’m not sure why I stumbled upon this one in my sleep last night, but perhaps words — like good bread — are best when shared.

 

Demeter in the Kitchen

 

The still house at dawn

and she’s kneading dough, a rye bread

she gently places in a red ceramic loaf pan.

Demeter, of flesh except for her marble eyes,

blank and smooth. She wears a blue floral house dress

pinched neat at the waist, and a thick braid falls

to the middle of her back. I ask if she’ll have me

in the kitchen, to watch her work some more.

A warning wrapped in her silent nod,

there’s a cost to learning

how to conjure life from dust.