Odyssey to Audre Lorde (part of the #unsung series)

52164-oFilled with the fervor of first love

with no doctor to check my rapid vitals

I was told there is a same-sex clinic you can go

where moustached men will not begrudge

your lack of desire for their kind

The Audre Lorde Clinic had a woman with

a tattoo on her neck, of a blue bird

she said

all our gynecologists are women like you

putting my feet in stirrups I felt differently from when

men peered between me with their gloved hands

I understood the power of the gaze to

withhold and diminish

who was Audre Lorde? I asked, having not yet

taken poetry, gender studies, minority relations

you don’t know? they raised their unplucked eyebrows

oh girl you need to know Audre

 

that was Audre’s  point all along it seems

she who makes her meaning known

“I am defined as other in every group I’m part of”

nobody can know, nobody can own my voice

The mythical norm of U.S Culture is

white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, Christian, financially secure

I am none

my name is Audre

I am legally blind

seeing more than race and yet some histories are bathed in blood

Audre would not sit down and be a good girl

outside the definition her tongue

like other complicated spirits struck with lightning

as a child, when asked; “how do you feel?”

quoting from a poem Audre said;

I feel like this

because linear thought and prose

doesn’t always cut it for the intersectional

and those

born with a longing for more than conventional norm

or who fit with the intolerant

Audre was asked; “Do you think the black woman of America is invisible?”

she said; “Where you been all your life?”

“I’m a black lesbian I’m every kind of invisible yet my voice subsists”

just as when young Audre tried to get the attention of her mother

who dwelled in the safety of being able to pass

for Anglo

maybe if Audre had not tried so hard

she would not have learned to pen poems so truthful

Audre demanded people know

“there are groups of us branded unacceptable living right next door to you”

her poetry continues in the mouths of  young women who hear her truth

she died as she lived, fighting

it is said all those who die young die too soon, we lose the best ones first

come back in your poems Audre, speak to us

through time, through thunder, you exist beyond yourself

 

“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.” AudreLorde

#unsung – this is part of the hash-tag ‘unsung’ (unsung heroes) series that folks on WP are writing to selflessly promote those lives that did not get sufficient notice.

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Iris Chang (part of the #unsung heroes series)

Iris-Chang-264x400

Why must the insightful carry the greatest weight?

in their teeth like a bit crunching down until they break

teeth all over the place, white against the dark

enamel lasts long after we are gone

your words are never broken Iris

the love others held for you cannot be undone

by spectacle or ire, you are immune now

as beautiful as you were in life your memory not forgotten

eulogized in statues and prophecy, courage in bronze

such is the legacy of those who live to help others

you shone a light where no light had been shone

perhaps it invited unbidden demons and the silk worm

perhaps it made you mad and rageful in Louisville

who can say what fuse is lit, how long it burns or

whether others haunt us to our fatal choice?

but who would not feel horror when unveiled

the gruesome atrocity of what humans are capable

your Nanking chronicles, bravely revealed

blowing your silver whistle over lies

whether secret hands held you down

commanding, speak not, no more truth released

or you became absorbed in the tragedy you wrote

my hope is you gaze down, aware of the love held

your beautiful face gracing the cover of your mom’s book

a legacy unfurling, one step, two, ever more

you will always rise higher than you thought

such is the way of the guide

needing sometimes to turn from her gift back to the world

to see the beauty held in their own

reflection

 

“The woman who could not forget: Iris Chang before and beyond The Rape of Nanking by Ying-Ying Chang (mom) and The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang.”

part of the hash-tag #unsung (heroes) series.