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A Poem

June 17, 2009

For two women shot to death
in Brookline, Massachusetts
by Marge Piercy
________________________________________

How dare a woman choose?
Choose to be pregnant,
choose to be childless,
choose to be lesbian,
choose to have two lovers or none,
choose to abort
choose to live alone
choose to walk alone
at night,
choose to come and to go
without permission
without leave
without a man.

Consider a woman’s blood
spilled on a desk,
pooled on an office floor,
an ordinary morning at work,
an ordinary morning of helping
other women choose
to be or not to be
pregnant
means she has fallen
into death.

A woman young and smiling
sitting at a desk
trying to put other women at ease
now bleeds from five
large wounds, bleeding
from her organs
bleeding out her life.

A young man is angry at women
women who say no
women who say maybe and mean no
women who won’t
women who do and they shouldn’t
If they are pregnant they are bad
because that proves
they did it with someone
they did it
and should die.
A man gets angry with a woman
who decides to leave him
who decides to walk off
who decides to walk
who decides

Women are not real to such men
they should behave as meat
such men drag them into the woods
and stab them
climb in their windows and rape them
such men shoot them in kitchens
such men strangle them in bed
such men lie in wait
and ambush them in parking lots

such men walk into a clinic
and kill the first women they see.

In harm’s way:
meaning in the way of a man
who is tasting his anger
like rare steak.
A daily ordinary courage
doing what has to be done
every morning, every afternoon
doing it over and over
because it is needed
put them in harm’s way.

Two women dying
because a man chose that they die.
Two women dying
because they did their job
helping other women survive
Two women dead
from the stupidity of an ex altar boy
who saw himself
as a fetus
who pumped his sullen fury
automatically
into the woman in front of him
twice, and intended more.

Stand up now and say No More.
Stand up now and say We
Stand up and say We will not be ruled
by crazies and killers,
by shotguns and bombs and acid.
We will not dwell in the caves of fear.
We will make each other strong.
We will make each other safe.
There is no other monument.

HJF: On The Issues

Question: If a pregnant woman crossing a protest line at an abortion clinic full of angry anti-abortionists shouting, “you filthy murdering whore,” changes her mind and turns to the anti-abortion people for guidance, is she still a filthy murdering whore? Or will she still be a filthy whore, just no longer a murdering one?

14 Comments
  1. June 17, 2009 10:52 am

    Yeah, I’m going with still-a-filthy-whore-just-not-a-murdering-one. I honestly can’t believe any woman feels welcome in such religions, let alone feels compelled to proselytize for them.

  2. atheistwoman permalink
    June 17, 2009 1:49 pm

    who saw himself
    as a fetus

    That’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it.

  3. June 17, 2009 4:04 pm

    Sometimes they do “cross over.” I have seen women talk to them, take their literature and rosaries, but only once have I seen a woman leave with them to go to their “crisis pregnancy center.” And she came back an hour later. So apparently their promises and their rhetoric didn’t pan out into reality, at least not in a way that satisfied her.

    • June 17, 2009 4:13 pm

      So Amy, if the protesters plead, “Please, please, just listen to us, read what we have to say, just give us a chance,” and she does (as the woman in your comment did), if she does not do what they want her to do, when she comes back an hour later does she have some sort of pass or something that states that she is excused from the angry shouting and derogatory name calling?

  4. June 17, 2009 4:45 pm

    when she comes back an hour later does she have some sort of pass or something that states that she is excused from the angry shouting and derogatory name calling?

    OMG I only wish. The guys here don’t call names per se but they might as well, they are horrible, and I’m sure their attitude towards her was that she was an even bigger sinner for rejecting their help after knowing something about it, rather than just rejecting it out of hand.

    No, nobody gets a pass. Of course they know who the doctors are and they are on the receiving end of specialized shit; and they try with me, either to ‘convert’ me — “could I just talk to you for a minute? I just want to talk to you for one minute!” or to provoke me with various comments — they suggest I ought to get some exercise to “lose some of that weight” (even though I ride there on my bicycle, go figure), they can see I’m “lonely” and ask me why I’m all alone and where my husband is, or if I hate them, because they can see from my “body language” that I am “full of hate.” Projection much?

    So no, there are no passes, and the mind boggles that they seem to believe that a young woman who has decided she isn’t up for being a mother (right now) (again so soon) is suddenly going to change her mind because they’re yelling at her “do you know you’re going into an ABORTION place?” or “the opposite of life is DEATH, not choice!”

    It does my heart good though that there’s almost always a spunky one who yells back at them to mind their own fucking business.

    • June 17, 2009 6:21 pm

      One time I took a girl who was home on leave from Iraq to an abortion center. They broke the whole ordeal down to two parts and we were afraid she would not have enough time off. First, she had to visit the center, etc, and then they scheduled the procedure a week later, which meant, she only had a few days before she had to go back to Iraq. The literature said to be ready for protesters, etc, that they usually show up on termination day. I took it to mean, all terminations where scheduled on the same day vs every day. Anyway when the day came, I had my little one, and her little one in the car, and we were able to drive right through. Because the way it is set up, the protesters can only be on the sidewalk and not on the business property on either side. There were no protesters. At first, I was going to entertain us all and have picnic lunch and read books thinking we were trapped in the parking lot, fearing that once we leave we would have to cross again. But no. Once I saw that, we left for the park, Starbucks, the library, and then came back and still had to wait in the parking lot (under a nice big tree no less) for her to come out with no trouble. We were lucky.

  5. atheistwoman permalink
    June 17, 2009 4:53 pm

    they suggest I ought to get some exercise to “lose some of that weight” (even though I ride there on my bicycle, go figure), they can see I’m “lonely” and ask me why I’m all alone and where my husband is, or if I hate them, because they can see from my “body language” that I am “full of hate.” Projection much?

    OMG lol. I actually would start laughing at them too, which is not necessarily a good survival trait.

    “do you know you’re going into an ABORTION place?” or “the opposite of life is DEATH, not choice!”

    .

    Heh. Actually sweethearts, I’m pretty sure that the opposite of choice is death. But go on then, I’m sure your delusions are serving you nicely anyway.

  6. June 17, 2009 6:58 pm

    I do laugh at them AW, but only to myself, because any kind of response only encourages them. When people go talk to them — 9 times out of 10 it is the boyfriend, and the other time it is the mother/sister of the patient — I always think, “Don’t you get that you are just making it harder for ALL of us to be out here?” If anyone talks to them or takes their junk, it gives them the feeling that they are having an influence, even if they’re not.

    Sounds like you *were* lucky, Kitty. At my local clinic it is suspected that the diocese pays several of the regulars, because they are there every day, for hours. And the clinic entrance is at the back but the regulars have set up ladders in the alley so that they can shriek over the back wall at the women not just from the sidewalk as they’re driving into the parking lot but also as they’re walking into the clinic. It’s kind of surreal. I’ve only had a couple shifts without protesters when the one guy who is ALWAYS there got hurt by someone’s boyfriend who knocked him off his ladder with a bat.

    Is your friend okay?

    • June 17, 2009 8:26 pm

      As far as I know she is okay. She left my care okay. A few years later she was okay. And just yesterday she added me as a friend on her facebook.

    • June 17, 2009 8:38 pm

      Amy, I think I answered that question about if my friend is okay with something buzzing in the background. You know the testimonials of all those women who live to regret their choice. Not saying there are not some who do, just saying the number is greatly exaggerated. Some people really like to put their own spin on reality.

  7. June 17, 2009 10:35 pm

    You know the testimonials of all those women who live to regret their choice.

    I just don’t get that. I mean, I believe in respecting women’s experience and all, but, like, you can always be a mom later! Even if you decide not to/can’t have biobabies, there’s no lack of kids needing parenting in this world. Regretting the removal of THAT PARTICULAR clump of cells seems to go right to the whole specialprecioussnowflake theory of human reproduction, which I don’t buy, at all.

    Anyway glad your friend is okay. I was thinking more in terms of lingering trauma from being screamed at and harassed, myself. 🙂

  8. June 21, 2009 3:47 am

    That’s such a great poem.

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