& I want the night back
I want the walk from the bar back
I want the path, well-lit with the moon’s luna lady energy
I want the ghost of the lady in the tower
to be the guard for all of us
When I say city angels, I mean it has to be us—
In it together in battle uniforms
of skinny jeans & combat boot
Checking the dark corners for dimples
that only seem harmless
I want the night back—all the times
we turned onto our blocks, then turned
around & looked back & all the keys
between our knuckles & all the dead stares
we’ve given—at parties,
the thumbs held over the open bottle’s mouth
we hold back our mouths, we don’t
smile. When he says ‘appeal,’ he means—
Keeping checking over your shoulder.
If money can buy innocence,
he’ll have an Olympic-sized pool full of it.
When we say ‘fight,’ we mean—
they can only tread water for so long
before we call our own last call
on all of this.
In terms of what this subject means to me, it has been a theme running through my writing for years as I’ve also been reading about and widening my feminist experience. Recently (I am 27 years old), my mother told me about her experience of having a pre-Roe v Wade abortion. This was a strange moment for me because my manuscript is about my mother’s impact on MY life and she’s always been open with me about most things. Of course, my reaction was to write about this.
Poems are not often rallying cries but this one is nothing short of. The line ‘I want’ in answer to the title is an extremely powerful use of refrain and illuminates this truth — perpetrators want a clean reputation and forgiveness for actions they CHOOSE to take; we, as feminine-presenting people just want safety for ourselves and our loved ones.
Sage Curtis is a Bay Area writer fascinated by the way cities grit and women move. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Glass Poetry, Main Street Rag, burntdistrict, Yes Poetry, The Fem Lit, Vagabond City Lit and more. She has been a finalist for the Rita Dove Award and the Gigantic Sequins Award in Poetry, as well as an Honorable Mention for the Wrolstad Contemporary Poetry Series. Her chapbook, Trashcan Funeral, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. You can find more of her work at sagedaniellecurtis.com and follow her on Twitter at @sagedanielle.
This piece was submitted for our call for poetry submissions with the theme "What It Means To Have a Voice: reclaiming power and agency in the face of sexual harassment/assault, misogyny, sex trafficking, rape culture, and gender-based discrimination" on the coattails of the 45th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Read the original call for submissions here >>