Can you see it, woman?
These strings holding you back,
Denying you equal treatment, equal judgment,
When you’re both wearing the same damn black pants and the
Same lifeless, work-consumed eyes;
These strings that allow
Them
To look past the callouses and sun-scorched muscles of a worn-out body,
Hard-earned trophies
Born of the simple need to provide for a starving family,
And yet brushed off, because
You don’t have the dick
To come with it.

Can you see it, woman?
These insistent hands clamoring for a taste of your forbidden fruit,
Always there, always there,
Stripping you of your dignity like
You’re nothing more than an apple to be picked;
You can see it in their eyes, the way
They see you as a
Perfect little present, meticulously wrapped in the prettiest of garments and ribbons,
And the pleasure of unwrapping you
Belongs to them,
With their greedy eyes and drool-encrusted lips
And hearts dust-stained enough
To not know
The difference between loving you,
And loving how you belong between the legs of a man.

Can you see it, woman?
These maps of black and blue on your ashy skin,
Born of love
And passion-kissed knuckles;
You’re thinking the ring on your finger might
Be stronger than any cuff or chain,
As you kiss them back with rehearsed complacence….
It has never been your place to speak out,
To scream,
To defy–
It has never been your children’s, either,
When they put the cuff on their finger and paint their skin the same shades of
Black and blue;

A treasure chest, that’s who you are merely.
You’re merely a wife, a daughter,
You are merely
a woman.

They will lure you in, woman,
With pastel fabrics and promises of respect.

They will lure you in with hair and skin care products
And the perfect shade for your lips,

They will tell you to change who you are
Into the image they think you should be,

They will tell you to empower yourself–
When I don’t think they know what that word means.

They will turn you against each other:
Women against women,
Comrades against comrades;
They will make you lose sight of the fight.
Maybe even make you believe the fight has been won.

But wars cannot be won with roses and four-inch heels.

When you can’t be man enough to fight–
try to be a woman.
Be woman enough,
And let’s fight guns with guns, blood with blood.
Ideas with ideas.

They’ve dulled your senses to violence,
Woman,
And filled your head
With notions of peace and feathery calm;
But they can never dull your will to break through.

Because, woman, you were never a rib torn from a man;

You are a pair of lips,
never afraid to speak out in the harsh words you were taught never to say.
You are a pair of raging eyes,
aflame with all the injustices you vowed never to look away from again.
You are your fists,
and may you never hesitate to lash out for another woman in need.
You are not a flower, a princess, a damsel in distress.
You are not a prefix for a man.
Instead,
You are a woman.
In every courageous sense of the word.

Beauty was an illusion, you were always destined to be the beast.
The world is not ready for your power;
Unleash it anyway,
woman.

– “Woman, Can You See It?”

LL.

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