Legion of Elevator Women

Look at me, we say in the faces
of those who deny our stories.
I’m talking to you, look at me,
I’m right here, look at me.
I’m your daughter. I’m your sister
I’m your mother, I’m your spouse.
I’m telling you my story, look at me!

Telling what happened
brings it up in the body
the body that was violated,
like shifting tectonic plates
bring up a quake in the earth.
Telling our stories is the labor
that brings to light and birth
a new country, a new earth.

Look at me, we say in the faces
of those who deny our stories:
I’m talking to you, look at me,
I’m right here, look at me.
I’m your daughter. I’m your sister
I’m your mother, I’m your spouse.
I’m telling you my story, look at me!

Telling takes everything we have.
Changing shame into courage
wrings out the body like a rag.
We shake with rage
which must be faced and told
but can’t be allowed to stay
in our body to damage us further.
Squeeze it out, press it out,
in company you trust.
Extract the venom of acts
that never belonged to you.
Expel the shame, apply the poultice:
pride in survival, love of self.

Look at me, we say in the faces
of those who deny our stories:
I’m talking to you, look at me,
I’m right here, look at me.
I’m your daughter. I’m your sister
I’m your mother, I’m your spouse.
I’m telling you my story, look at me.

Re-aligned and upright,
integrity reclaimed,
we shine our light on what has been invisible.
We name the rape jokes and catcalls,
the unwanted touch,
the flashing and blaming and stalking,
the nonconsensual photos,
the groping and coercion and violations,
the stealthing, drugging, and molestations–
We name it the culture of rape
founded on misogyny.
Women telling our truth
changes the global paradigm.
We cast
rape culture out!

                  ©Susa Silvermarie 2018

Offered with thanks to Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher for confronting the Congressman in the elevator on September 28, 2018, and for Archila’s statement afterwards: “I want all of us to become a legion of elevator women across the country.”