Marching in Place

Over the heads of the gathering crowd, you could catch,
here and there, a glimpse of a cedar hat
and know the source’s incessant beat,
the throbbing sound of drums
drawing attention to the indigenous women’s plight,
the missing and murdered unaccounted for,
another sad story in equality’s long and arduous fight.
Others, joining the crowd, had their issues, too,
the women and some men ready to march,
holding their placards high and proud
but wondering just when
the parade down Seattle’s Pine Street
might begin.
One hour, then two and still no movement,
forced by the pressure of other bodies,
padded against the cold and rain,
to march in place.
After the third hour the writing on every placard
was old news,
and the stress was beginning to show, claustrophobia
was setting in and bladders were screaming for relief.
But then, miracle of miracles,
the crowd began to move and there was,
at last, street under the feet and the celebratory spirit,
too long confined, broke free,
the placards, once again waving and bouncing along,
carried the meaning of the day:
“Abortion should be rare, safe and accessible”
“Keep your rosaries away from my ovaries”
“Respect my existence or expect my resistence”,
The literate and noisy crowd, walks and shouts
its way west,
down Seattle’s Pine Street to equality’s shore,
already prepared, determined,
to march again next year.


Endnote: The second annual March for Women’s Rights took place in Seattle, January 20, 2018. Marcella, the pastor at the Methodist church invited Dave Allen and me to join the march with her and 85,000 others. We arranged to meet her granddaughter, Natalie, at the IHOP restaurant near the Seattle University campus. We got there on time only to be locked in. Apparently the cook had walked out minutes before. All we could hear was the frantic manager shouting, “Lock the door! Lock the door! Don’t let anybody else in!” Natalie showed up on schedule. A waitress unlocked the door so we could get to the nearby park where the march was to begin. We had no way of knowing that we were to be locked in again, over three hours this time, imprisoned by the marchers crammed in around us. in the small, fenced park. The ghost of IHOP was there. We have laughed about it since but it was actually potentially dangerous, the slightest panic could have touched off a run for the gates. As it was, we still managed to enjoy the excursion, benfitting from being part of such an important event, all feeling strongly that the time has come, in fact was past due, to insist on the equal rights of women in our country and the world.

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