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what strength has a woman*
to mourn
to breathe
whilst drowning in stupor
of sly, slinking, slander
a clandestine catalyst
simply to bleed is not enough
you must pull from
the underbelly of
buried gold, raw gemstones
such treasured trysts
this stalwart opus will arc
into an evolution of conscience
it will fasten and implant
though it will tangle
in sync
with the mortals
in masse
they may mark you
a firebrand of unpaid candor
but you are not tinder
you are the fire
neither a martyr
nor a souvenir of
delicious ambitions
you own the hammer
you wield the scythe
your heart is
welded sheet metal
tempered to arm your children
with gifts of grandeur
the thirst of justice
will be quenched by flames
we are phoenixes
awaiting ash

*My inclusion of the word ‘woman’ is meant to describe my own identity as a cisgender, bisexual woman, and not
to seclude non-binary or gender non-conforming people.





Marie McKessy is a poet and visual artist based in Chicago, Illinois. Her work focuses on the feminist perspective, gender issues, and sociopolitical context. Marie aims to explore feminism, decolonization, and other much-needed aspects of societal change through her art practice.