“When you carry your child nine months in your womb…

” a man comes

up from behind and attacks you halfway across the

bridge…”

April 19, 2015

I was very active in the feminist movement in my 20’s. In the last year or so, I was starting to despair that the Women Take the Night marches, suggestions to government legislators on how to tighten up sexual assault laws and to allow women the right to have abortions and equal pay for work of value had disappeared on women’s agendas. If it is not important to women today, including many young women, I thought,  then who will work for equality between women and men?

Then, I started noticing:Patricia Arquette, who won an Oscar for her role in Boyhood, using the Academy Awards platform to speak out for equal pay for work of qual value for women ; young women speaking out against anorexia; Indian women taking to the streets like never before in order to protest the brutal gang rape of a professional woman on a bus. Women are once again waking up to the fact that we are still treated like second class citizens.

In this post is another one of my poems published in the late 1970s, I believe. I was inspired to write it when I read about a horrible aftereffect of Vietnam war for Vietnamese women. The first stanza is a quote from one of  Sheila Rowbotham’s social history (herstory) books entitled Women, Resistance and Revolutions.

The following poem is known as a found poem because it is ‘jump started’ by someone else’s published work:

Dateline: arts

1970’s

Poetry by Tanya Lester

“When you carry your child nine months in your

womb, bear

it in labour with death all round you, only to find the

monstrous weapons of imperial technology have

assaulted

you even there,

you carry the war deep inside you.”

When you hurry home with keys in your hand, and

a  man comes

up from behind and attacks you halfway across the

bridge

two city blocks length from your apartment,

you carry the war deep inside you.

When you don’t have supper on the table, and your

husband

gives you a black eye and shoves you down to the

floor and

forces your legs apart and rapes you in your own

home,

you carry the war deep inside you.

When your father says he’ll tuck you in, but straddles

you

instead and breaks your vagina open in your own

bed,

you carry the war deep inside you.

When you see a woman being forced through a meat

grinder,

her insides spilling out like ground beef and you

know

she’s you,

you carry the war deep inside you.

When I say war is pain, being seared outside in

scorched

inside out and you  have the power to end it if you

call on the strength of the core of your being,

I’m screaming from deep inside me.

* The quote used above is Sheila Rowbotham’s emotional response to her own account of the Vietnamese women experienced “an abnormally high percentage of miscarriages, stillbirths and deformed children, born with large heads and small brains” from the toxic gases of the bombs dropped in 1961. Taken from her Women, Resistance and Revolution (London,1970).

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