100 Years Ago

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100 years ago, I could not vote.
But before that, my voice was inaudible. Not silent; but unheard.
The shouts of my pains, of my lack of personhood;
(for I was nothing without my husband)
Fell on deaf ears.
My body was constricted;
The way they dressed me; the life they gave me.
I was nothing if not wife or mother.
My intellectuality was void;
No one dared believe I could.
I became tired of these lies.
100 years and centuries more,
I had waited
Feasting on breadcrumbs from the pity-filled few
Who tossed them my way
A little education there
A few rights here
But always a life of dutiful silence and servitude
A life of work for no pay
A life of abuse with no justice
A life of limits, and rules.
Well no more
I cried!
If not now, when?
So I rose up
And awakened my sisters
And oh, the paths we paved!
The battles we fought
And the journeys we began
For 100 years or more
We Shall Not Be Denied
And now, my dear sister,
They can even hear us whisper.

By Joyce McCauley-Benner

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