Mary Fox

There’s a woman up here.

 

There’s a woman up here.  
I have something to say:
           When I was 11, Mama called me to the kitchen
           for my Friday allowance.  She handed my brother a dollar
           and gave one to me.  He was five.
           “How come I get the same as a five-year-old?”
           “He’s a boy,” she told me.  “He needs more.”

 

There’s a woman up here.
I’ve got something to say:
           I remember walking down Van Dyke one Saturday morn.
           Summertime, I was 14 and contemplating what I’d spend
           my babysitting money on that I’d earn that night--
           fifty cents an hour for five hours—a whole $2.50!
           Suddenly a car flew up to the curb where I walked,    
           and four teenaged boys hung out their car windows,
           taunting me.  “Hey baby, I’d like some of that”  
           “You’re gonna love it.”  “Let me pet your pussy!”
           I kept my head down and picked up my pace
           and walked a block past my turn-off 
           then reversed directions as they followed me.  
           I didn’t want them to know where I lived.  
           I ducked into the local bank, stayed inside
           till they drove off.  A teller took me out the backdoor.

There’s a woman up here.
I’ve got something to say:
           I was 19 years old, talking to my college counselor
           and telling him how much I liked geology
           and how was thinking of majoring in it.
           He held his hand out as if to say “stop!”
           “Nobody’s going to hire you.  You best
           stick to something you can teach 
           or look into nursing.”

There’s a woman up here
I’ve got something more to say
           I was 30, married, just bought my first house.
           My husband was home, ripping out carpet
          while I went to pick out new.
           I stopped at New York Carpet World
           and found just what I wanted 
           And I sat down to sign the deal—
           “one year same as cash.”
           And the salesman says:
           “I’ll need your husband’s signature.”
           “But I have my own job
           and I make as much as he does.”
           “I still need it,” he smirks.
           “Let me understand.  My husband just bought
           a brand-new Oldsmobile Toronado 
           without my signature
           and I can’t buy two hundred worth of carpet
           without his?”
           I stood up and left.  I drove to downtown Lansing
           and picked up paperwork from the civil rights office
           and drove back to the store to get names
           for my first discrimination complaint.

There’s a woman up here.
I still have more to say:
That’s not my whole story and that’s not my ending—
that laws have changed.  
Some haven’t.
There’s a shitload of churches that still think
women are less and preach it.
A pussy-grabber still lives in the White House
two sexual-harassing, might-be rapists 
sit on the Supreme Court, and a woman
stands on the sidelines watching the man 
she beat by three million votes 
destroy the country she loves.
A whole mess of corporate CEOs think 
paying women less is just good business.
And bunch of good old boys think women 
exist to serve men—and some are fuckable.
So if you are a woman or a man with
A mother, sister, wife, or daughter,
This story isn’t over either.
You best decide whose side you’re on
Because this struggle has a long way to go
and there is a warrior up here
who is 71,
and I’m not standing down,
till I have no more to say.

THE COURTSHIP OF WINDS

© 2015 by William Ray