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No Man of Woman Born

by Meghan D. Coates

You say you do not trust anything that bleeds for seven days and does
not die.
I understand, of course, we all have our own prejudices--
I, for example, make it a rule not to trust anyone who confuses morality
with ethics.

And it's fair not to trust us--we outnumber you, after all,
And your historical acts of aggression and oppression,
Your modern policing of our bodies and minds and modes of expression,
Does not sit well with us.  Fear is probably wise.

If I bleed until I'm fifty, I'll have bled for 3,276 days--
Almost nine years.
You can't even bleed for three seconds without crying.
Yet the stereotype exists that we are
scared of blood--
What do you think we do for one week of every month,
Coach ourselves not to look down?
And who do you think sewed up the wounds of our husbands
And the body-bags of our sons
When they came home from wars we weren’t allowed to die in?

Though we have always found ways to circumvent the laws--
Becoming priests and priestesses in ancient times,
Binding our breasts and packing our trousers.
Mulan was not the only woman to disguise herself for the sake of war,
I do assure you, we’ve almost all done it at one time or another.

While your fathers were killing each other over scraps of metal and bits
of paper,
It was the people who bleed for seven days and do not die that gave you
That changed your diapers, taught you to talk, to walk, sometimes to
It was the people who bleed that gave everything they had to see that
you were well,
And once you were grown it was the people who bleed whom you cast
Your disrespect for one a disrespect for all;
When you insult that woman for her humanity, for her sex, for her blood,
You insult your own mother,
But only take offense when someone else is doing the insulting--
Because you presume to own her, so the right to insult her is yours and
yours alone.

But she does not belong to you.
No bleeder belongs to you,
Each belongs only to themselves.
We own our own bondage papers,
Even if, in moments of weakness or duress,
We sometimes loan them out.

You say you do not trust anything that bleeds for seven days and does
not die;
Well that is wise.
I will bleed for nine years and still survive;
I have thus far bled for one and a half, and am still alive;
I will bleed and bleed and bleed,
On everything you love,
On this entire world if I should have to,
And to stop me you will have to tear out my uterus and mangle my
fallopian tubes in a misguided hysterectomy,
Will have to rip out my ovaries in an unwilling and forceful cesarian
section which will yield nothing
but corrupted, unfertilized eggs and blood beyond what you can stomach.

I’ve never met a woman afraid of blood, but I’ve met many men who
screamed at the sight,
Have never met a woman who couldn’t stomach needles,
Though many men I’ve known can’t even stand the prod of a too-sharp
You are afraid?
Well good!
We too, are afraid.

Afraid that we will be beaten by the husbands we love,
Afraid that love is violence, like they teach you on tv;
Afraid that we will lose more sons to wars no one wants to fight,
Afraid that we will be forced to bury more daughters who fell before
brutish hands that never understood the word “No.”

We are afraid to remain in servitude--
Afraid to have our careers stolen away from us,
Afraid to have our vote stolen away from us,
Afraid to live in a world where violence against women is referred to as
“Boys being boys,”
Where threats and harm and sexual aggression against women are
ignored while men in power put children behind bars for
possessing bits of plant matter.

We are afraid because we have been powerless for centuries,
For millennia,
And 96 years possessed of a vote is not enough.

We have been spilling blood for you in all the time that we have walked
the earth;
You have been spilling our blood for all that time, too.

And of all the blood we’ve spilled, and spill, and is still to be spilled,
Least of all have we spilled the blood that would like to, but cannot,
nourish the unborn.
Nine years will I bleed for the want of a child,
Nine years will I stain my underwear, and my sheets, and my clothes,
But that is nothing.

Because every day I bleed for my sisters,
And for their brothers,
And my own--
Not when every day I wake up in pools of heart blood so thick I must
swim to the bathroom,
Not when I have bled so much already that I would be more surprised for
it to stop
Than start.

You are afraid of that which bleeds and does not die.
Add a fear to your list;
Fear that which lives,
Yet was never born,
And call me Macduff.

Because, Macbeth, your reign is ending,
And that which was never born,
yet does not die,
is coming.
I am coming.
And I will bring my sisters.

My name is Meghan D. Coates, and I've been writing nearly my entire life.
I graduated valedictorian of my high school class in Odessa New York,
spent two years in LA studying acting, and am now pursuing my degree
in Creative Writing at Empire State. I have published seven poems
through small publishers such as Eber & Wein and the Tanka Journal,
online copies of which can be found on my blog on writing, I consider myself a powerhouse of
passion, and am extremely dedicated to my craft and the pursuit of
universal truth and equality for all.
World's Best Poems, p. 22

No Man of Woman Born

by Meghan D. Coates
(Odessa, New York, USA)

First Place: Socially Engaged Poetry Contest #4
Originally Published in
Wax Poetry and Art, March 1, 2019
"No Man of Woman Born" by Meghan D. Coates
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