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For the Woman Staring at Her Mother in Her Reflection:

There are traces of rage engrained deep in your eyes
They never seem empty but full of seeing too much
You try to tuck away this anger, this sinister stirring of blood red
It is a silent flood that you inherited from your mother
A contorted twisted mouth open horrified that no sounds come out
Choking on the ceramic apple salt shaker that had been placed neatly by the supper he never ate
She drowned in the dishwater because she could never make anything clean enough

Like her mother, who polished her husband's shoes that complimented the suit she pressed for him
Feverishly making sure he could see her in their reflection
Her hands bled from scrubbing his white shirt collars
Quietly cursing lipstick for its potency
These curses filled her nauseous
Like finding out she had been conceived in violence
The day your great grandmother passed the inheritance the women were expected to carry

These faces full of bruises, arms that mend and re-mend
This heart full of aches, of smelling other women in their beds
Of not being able to distinguish what hair in the shower was hers
These broken wings from being pulled nearly in half being assaulted from behind like his little bitch

Fucked her and called her his whore
Nothing belonged to them, not even their voice
Even the children were not hers

A wounded beast rattled the cage of her mind viciously, scorned
They all did their best to control the subsequent hysteria with fists, threats and pills
Ultimately a hysterectomy

You are one of the lucky ones
The sickness is still close enough to the surface to be purged
Your tongue not yet hostage to the innermost parts of your thorax
The daunting mission to reduce to ashes this legacy of living chained to these men who remain blameless in the face of their crimes

Sometimes you look just like your great grandmother
Easy to bend back, skin breakable under the weight of an iron fist
Your black tears so much like hers, but this time I'm not sure what you're trying to cover up (she had an excuse)

When the light hits you right, you look just like your grandmother

But really you are identical to your mother
You hate that
Like a cross you never asked to bear
Lips curling in disgust as the images of her subordination flood you
If you hadn't already lost so much blood that night
This mirror would already be shattered

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »


William's picture

generational submission

Dear Ynanna, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience with all of us at World Pulse. The reason I'm writing to you is that I care about girls and women and have been working for equal human rights for women for a number of years.

Your story really moved me, as I had never read the facts together before. And here I thouglht you lived in Africa after reading your post. Please know that you are not alone in your struggle. Please keep posting on WorldPulse, so many of us can know what is happening in your life, as well as other women's lives. Blessings to you.

LatiNegra's picture

thank you for your

thank you for your encouragement. it means so much to me the outpour of support on this site. i hope your work goes well and thank you again!

Ynanna Djehuty
Certified Birth Doula and Writer

torilynnfox's picture

Hello Ynanna

That poem is absolutely amazing. You are so very talented and hope you continue to write. What a moving piece. I can only imagine what you feel when you look in the mirror and think of your mother and grandmother and great-grandmother. It is great to see your perspective being an American woman and learning of all women's struggles and finding hope in the fact that you still have a voice and choose to share it with the world. Keep writing. You are so very inspiring.

Sending you love, peace, and blessings,

LatiNegra's picture

Wow. Thank you. It is

Wow. Thank you. It is comments like this that keep me writing. The support I receive on this website is wonderful...thank you again!

Ynanna Djehuty
Certified Birth Doula and Writer

weaverheart's picture

Powerful piece

Hi Ynanna,

What an incredible and powerful piece you have shared with us! Thank you so much for being here, and for giving voice to such strong imagery and powerful emotions. This is a warrior's work, and you are carrying it. Thank you, on behalf of all women who have walked in these shoes. And for shedding light onto it for those who have not. It is a piece to awaken us all. Please keep your voice strong and loud. We need it.

Many blessings and love,

Laura R.

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