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‘Until Someone Hears You’… a Guest Blog by Audrey Melillo

​This summer I had the incomparable opportunity of co-leading a workshop with award-winning Ugandan poet Harriet Anena about using literature as a tool for self-advocacy. As a part of this workshop, I had the opportunity to share two of my own pieces of advocacy with the students. The first is entitled Mother, and it uses the analogy of a dying mother abandoned by her negligent children to encapsulate the global climate change crisis. The second was shared solely with my students, and it speaks about the importance of bonding together as women in response to the gender inequities that women globally face. I picked both of these poems to share because I thought they represented issues that the students would be able to relate to, and I eagerly shared them, because, as Harriet so beautifully stated, “Writing is like shouting from the top of a rooftop. Although it can be hard, you must keep shouting, and shouting, and shouting, because someday, somewhere, someone will hear you”. I hope you find these poems insightful and inspiring. 

Mother 
She cradled you in her arms
Muscular limbs enveloping you, stroking your hair, soothing you
She told you that everything would be alright
And you, in your naivete, believed her

But now everything is not alright

You watch them roll her into the room
With bright lights and loud noises, full to the brim with people
You sit there, breathing in the empty silence
The smell of darkness
You hear staggered breaths, you watch her chest sharply rise and fall
Shallow, ragged, breaths
‘Critical Condition’ you hear them whisper

You look into her sallow, withered face
Your mother
Your protectress
Your world

And she feigns a smile
Reaches to you
And tells you everything will be alright

But this time you don’t believe her

Your mother is disintegrating in front of your eyes
Her arms the branches of the oak tree, burnt until they were reduced to ash
Her mouth the slow babbling of the brook 
The dribbling of the fall that has been gagged and silenced
Her legs, once white, strong, smooth, unified, are now blue with frost and melt beneath her as she tries to take a step
Her movements the slippery fish, once darting through the open water, now sinking because he’s forgotten how to swim
Her scalp flakes like the ashen remnants of a nuclear blast, her hair stiff and dry, deprived of its natural oil
Her face scarred with the afflictions of her past abuses
Committed by our own hand

They give you an ultimatum
A drug and a routine
A few years at the maximum will save her for as long as you live, they say
With steady application and constant supervision she’ll be saved, they say
A little goes a long way, they say 
You’ll need to protect her like she’s protected you, they say
Because you would do anything to protect your mother, they say

You look at your mother
Frail, shaking. Her knobby hand reaches for you, her skin pockmarked and sallow
Your constant
Your world

And you stand up 
And leave her for dead

Women Advocacy Poem
They label us as something that should be universally defined
Suggesting that our grace and intelligence could be confined
They try to demean us, they sneer that we’re weak
They cover our mouths before we can speak.

But the more they try to silence us
The more we stand proud
They try to leave us in the darkness
But we disintegrate the shroud
With the light of our words, the strength of our voices
An army of sisters who will cherish our choices

We fight for each other
Because we can’t stand alone
We envision and develop
A better world of our own

For no longer shall we live in anonymity-
Afraid to embrace our femininity-
We now must use our passion and our station 
To work towards freedom from this degradation-
No longer breed goals out of hopeless in satiation
That were limited by a forced stagnation-
But will rather work together, in coordination-
Fueled by our love, our faith, our dedication

To become the generation that steps out of the shadows

We will tread over the fragments of broken promises that litter the floor
We will barge through the lost utterances guarding the door
To enter the brighter world of tomorrow

We are one voice
Comprised of many more
And we will no longer be silenced. 

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