3 Poems for International Women’s Day

Itzpapalotl, the Aztec goddess of purification and sacrifice.
She is the warrior ready to sacrifice all.


They call us criminals
as they stand in front of clinics.

They call us criminals
and sit in judgement on Capitol Hill.

They call us criminals
because we do what is forbidden.

We say women are not receptacles.
We say women are not breeders.

In their world,
they would pass sentence on us.

In their world,
we will kneel with coat hangers,
darkness covering us;
the dark flow of life
running down open legs.

In their world,
we will climb the narrow stairs
meeting shadowy men.
Men with scalpels
singing with fear and old blood;
who will take our money
and promise to keep silent.

In their world,
I have done what is forbidden.

I am a criminal.

My crime
I chose myself instead of a child.

My sin
I am not sorry.

My sentence
I know I am not safe.


These are nightmare words
breast lump
They are relentless.

The body in rebellion
is not soothed
by platitudes
or good intentions.

The light in the operating room
stares down, unblinking,
witnessing who passes through
and what will be lost.

I lie on the cold table
and watch the doctor enter.

Good girl.

Good soldier.

I am motionless
as he makes his cut
with the knife
thin as a smile.

He cuts more than flesh.

The wound itself cries


I need to lie on cool, wet ground;
to let the earth whisper to me.
If I am small, and still,
the grass will sing at last.

I feel hollow and lost.
I need green to fill me, to feed me.
I am sick of the taste of compromise;
of work for money only.

I am empty from worry
and my fear of losing you.

I need the touch of bark,
and the arms of trees.

I need to climb to fruit and flowers,
and trust I will not fall.

My prayer books
are crumbled and dry.
No church will hold me.
I look to ritual,
unadorned and simple.

I ask the Woman who is everywhere

Heal me.

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