They’ll have to drag me from Wisconsin
There is still so much to fight for.
When I was 17, I hated this state. Thought I’d go to college and never come back. Now people keep asking me if I’ll leave. And today this girl said she’s moving to Canada. And I don’t really have a fighting spirit naturally, but all of a sudden my hackles are up .
I’m mad. Mad about everything we have to lose. Mad that anyone would think I’d walk away. Mad that that’s their goal and it’s working. People think they’re not safe. People are leaving.
This land is not mine. I don’t belong here. Daughter of generations of empire. But I am here. And the waters of the Wisconsin still run into the Mississippi. And I will watch my friend-niece grow up here. And I will fall in love here. And I will protect my friends here.
Wisconsin is milkweed and oak and Ho-Chunk and Anishinaabe and Oneida. Wisconsin is colonized. There is genocide in the acres of prairie lost, in the lakes full of phosphorus and bacteria. There is racism and homophobia and these guys in the state legislature who don’t think I’m a whole person because I have a womb I don’t want to use.
But the thing is that I am a person. The thing is you can plow two million acres of prairie but there’s still milkweed, green and pink and dripping sap so poisonous it’s inhabited by orange caution flags of bugs. Something always stays. Something always grows.
We did this. White people. Gashed the land, poisoned the air, and the water, and the politics. And now, what? I’m going to leave? Leave the most vulnerable with the most destructive and just let our own poison run through the limestone?
I am going to tend the prairie. I am going to collect pods full of fluffy seeds and throw them on every inch of this town. ‘Til the water in the taps of the capitol runs sticky and toxic. ‘Til we have to admit that we are pieces, never whole. ‘Til there are more monarch caterpillars than people. ‘Til people feel safe here, on land that is its own.
It is not my business what people do, I know that. Not my place to judge or question those who think it’s time to go. But I cannot pretend I’m not mad. That my heart doesn’t feel betrayed when someone is willing to walk away from the liatris and the lupine and the deep red cherries.
I lost a decade of hope when we failed to win while we stood together. I was 17 and am still learning to forgive my naïveté. I know now that you don’t lose just one time. That nothing is ever totally lost because nothing can ever stay the same. Not when one seed pod cracks open to let 200 tiny embryos and their parachutes drift off on an autumn breeze.
There are more of us than them. That’s why they want us to leave. They’ll have to drag me away.