now howl

dedicated to these brave womyn. keep on couraging.

i used to be loud.
i used to speak my mind, easy and quick
like a faucet running
used to talk so certain of myself, i chattered
like the leaves of a tree whose
roots go too deep to see, a tree
certain of its own belonging

i don’t remember the first time i was interrupted
or the second,
or third,
or fourth…
it was one of those things where,
like a headache,
you only noticed it when it failed to fade, only realized the problem when the problem

i’ve tried all the suggested cures
for this headache that is being-a-woman-who-gets-interrupted-all-the-time:
turning up my volume / turning it down
talking faster / talking slower
talking deeper / talking higher
making eye contact / avoiding eye contact
making gestures / standing firm
but no amount of self-medication has made the headache go away

like a headache,
nobody believes me
when i say that it hurts
you’re making it up
it’s all in your head
so the pain is ignored
and the headache continues

a lifetime of conditioning later
and i’ve become a dog well-trained
to stay out of the way, assume i’m a nuisance, stutter, mumble,
lick lips, head down, speak only with permission, sit, beg.
(good girl!)


every time a woman is interrupted,
a tree falls; a forest recedes
a flame, hot-fierce-flickering, is snuffed out
a river runs dry and we all suffer drought

every time a woman is dismissed, talked-over, cut-off, ignored,
the silencing of her is the silencing of all women:
our harassment, dismissed
our “no,” talked-over
our limbs, cut off
our rape, ignored
our broken sentences, fractured bones
our unfinished thoughts, unfinished lives

sometimes i wonder if they’re right.
yes, i know, i am too loud,
too much
too annoying
too existing
too being
i’m sorry
sorry for my throat
sorry for my tongue
sorry for my teeth
sorry for me

— as if there is ever a good reason to try to stop a wolf from howling when the movements of the moon draw a magnificent moan from her mouth, or
as if toppling a tree means the tree should have known better, should have stayed underground


you can only kick a dog so long
before she remembers
the wolf that breathes in her chest
wrestling with her conscience
you were wild once
you had no masters
you spoke out of turn and no one could stop you
you were meant for more than this life of obedience
now howl and don’t stop howling
and if they still don’t hear you
you don’t have to howl alone
you’ve got your pack
howl together
trees will tear through cement if they have to
water will break mountains if pushed to that point
volcanoes seem quiet, too, until the time comes to create a new world


those who establish their own existence on the erasure of our own —
who interpret our shrinking as surrender,
who sail our calm seas and mistakenly assume they have mastered us —
will eventually find their foundations crumbling,
their boats violently rocked and
their reality interrupted
by a truth only women can know

what is that truth?


try to pull a muzzle over a wolf’s jaws;
build your house upon a sleeping volcano;
dare to stand in front of a tsunami, underestimating her fervor, her force;
and she will show you.