for what it’s worth

At 5 I said I’d be the one
as my generation was told we could be whatever we wanted
(our innocence obscuring
the emperor’s clothes)
the moment came to pass before my 36th year
(rather, it came to past)
that I would not need to be the first as in
summer
she came to rise.

Monday I watched
I hoped, I turned to my sisters my mothers my daughters myself
as we
watched her moment
(our moment)
emerge from the sweatshop after 30 years
of change
(and changing herself)
for the seat at the table
her track record stretching for miles behind her
a train of accomplishment
for it also was
(is always is, will be can be must be)
a receipt of the transactions of identity
decades worth of itemized inequalities
thousands of thousands of
hungry eyes on her form
(you know boys will be boys)
hours worked for so less
(hon, bring me a coffee)
conversations misguided
(is your husband there)
miscalculations of her talent
(pretty good for a girl)
decisions invading her body
(let me tell you where life begins)
line by line by line
hers flew behind her
a cape of hope usually reserved for fiction
whipping in the wind from her oppressor’s words
a trailing garment that measures
a woman’s worth.

Tuesday we watched
a hero’s worth
as we punched our ballots
tearing up at a chance
thankful to see our invitation had stopped being lost in the mail
knowing we could withstand the hurricane
keeping us at 79% 63% 54%
a bargain of labor but never in spirit
thinking her lifetime of work
(be softer more firm
less sexy more desirable
in the system out of the circle
smile more smile less
leave him be loyal
act like a lady be one of the guys
dance dance dance stand damnit stand)
three-four-twelve times the work for a thousand times the ridicule
(say thank you, sweetheart)
was unflappable in a contest of
track record vs on the record, a battle for
a woman’s worth.

Wednesday we saw
her banner still flying high
as we felt crushing lows
fear for our future our safety our bodies our world
100% a woman’s worth.
she waved in the post-battle breeze
perhaps secretly frayed
(never let them see you sweat feel cry be real)
unwavering and clad in her battle armor, stitch by stitch
a woman’s worth.

Thursday I saw
the look in our eyes
not defeat nor denial
the look of the unvalued and unwelcome
invisible to those uninitiated into our club
(though our ranks grew three sizes that day)
sisters and brothers in our fear and despair
strangers more familiar than our own blood
(please please let it not be shed)
recognizable to one another because we believe in
a woman’s worth.

Friday I sat by a river and cried
terrified for our nation and of it
of and for all those who denied
all woman’s worth.

they wanted a pound of flesh 
asking us to satiate their appetite for
any woman’s worth.
we cut off our hair our pride our limbs 
fed it to the beast, all tokens for
a woman’s worth.

Saturday I climbed
30,000 feet above the sky
encased in steel and steel of heart
wrapped in my cloak of
a woman’s worth.
soaring among the clouds where gods once dwelled
and so often fell
then blamed
a woman’s worth.

5 hours later I touched the ground
feet planted on the earth
warm and wholly
(holy)
a woman’s worth.

the wind of fervor still blowing
lifting the spirits and the capes of so
many women’s worth.
all colors, patterns, sizes and shapes of
a woman’s worth.

armed with our words, our anger, our promise and our fight
for they still do not see
a woman’s worth.

and now is the time we open their eyes.