Women, We Did This

An illustration of an older woman in a kimono

I look into my tía’s eyes
Her eyes are red with anguish
For my sister who is in labor
I can’t even look into my mother’s eyes
I know I’ll see my sister’s screams there too
We agonize when the women we love are in pain
We agonize when we know the pain ourselves
It’s over, oh thank God, it’s over
A baby boy, skin bright red, is yelling
I look around the room and my heart swells with pride
To see it was all women side by side
The doctor, nurses, mothers, tías, sisters
We have always ushered in life
Since the beginning
We are innately empowered and gifted
We have not always been thus uplifted
Triumph gleaming out of every eye
We did this 

Something so strong I had witnessed
The intrinsic, unbreakable bond between women
That has also withstood the ages
We are tied and tethered, and when we work together
We are powerful beyond understanding
Beyond the words that can be expressed
Women, our power breaks through the pages
Like the rising sun that spreads across the canyons
Filling every cold, dark crevice with light
Strength that makes the world go ‘round
We did this 

A mother with a swollen belly
Torn between two countries
Forced to leave behind her little girls
Crosses the border to give birth to her son
She risks her life for her family
She sacrifices all for the children yet unseen
For a dream far out of reach from the between
Who can understand this?
This granddaughter can
She did it for me and she did it for us
Her legacy is her daughters having daughters
Who no longer have to risk their lives crossing waters
Her legacy is granddaughters traveling the world with ease
Granddaughters graduating with their Master’s Degrees
Abuela, you did this
We did this 

We honor the women who have done the crossing for us
We remember the women wiping tear-stained eyes in the dust
Whose hearts broke to leave their own mothers behind
Whose worn feet, hands and backs
Tell the story of love poured out under the scorching sun
In their memory, we find our strength to run
We are the seeds you birthed in grief
We grow and flourish beneath your radiance
Like the bougainvillea plant Mami loves so much
We, the next generation, emit the most joyful fragrance
We did this 

My sister refuses to get out of bed
All desire for living drained out of her young eyes
She scribbles swirls of darkness onto a white page
This is what’s happening inside of me she says
Sisters on a sunny day begging her to get out of bed and live
Women surround her; we have life to give
Pastors, therapists, mothers, sisters
Please tell us your pain
We love you; let us help you
Little sister, you choose to face your pain
We walk with you toward the light
We carefully tend to the tiny flame of life
Healing wraps her gentle arms around you
You find the courage and strength deep within
Now you are becoming a therapist to guide others
Through the healing labor of birthing wholeness
You did this
We did this 

Women, we succeed when we all thrive
There is nothing we cannot overcome
There is no one we cannot become
There is no seed we cannot nurture
There is no wound we cannot suture
Since time immemorial
Uplifted by our powerful history
We walk with our heads held high
Triumph gleaming in our eyes
As we look to each other and proclaim
We did this  

Image via Agata Rek, Darling Issue No. 22

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