a brief moment, lost

a brief moment, lost

it was a brief moment in time
an open window when we were
convinced that girls could be smart
and successful, that girls could be
treated as equals, that their thoughts
and opinions mattered, it hasn’t
been long since girls could grow
up and be anything they dreamed
that they could be, and for a second
we were assured that our bodies
were our own, that our lives had
value, gone were the days when we
couldn’t vote, or own property,
or drive, or choose how to spend
our futures, free from the need
to defer to our fathers and then to our
husbands to get along in this world.

They lied to us you know.
Let us taste freedom and a bit of
equality (for less pay) and autonomy
over own bodies, and the right
to choose how to care for ourselves…
they never intended for us to get
comfortable, they didn’t like it
when we started thinking for
ourselves, when we stopped
asking permission, when we called
them out for not accepting that
no means no, for expecting to
be treated with respect.

I learned how to manage, like
those before me, my mother, her
mother, before the brief moment
flashed, I learned to smile demurely,
to avert my eyes when it was not
my eyes they wanted to see, but
my breasts, I learned that it was
easier to make coffee in the boardroom,
I learned how to suggest an idea and then
applaud my male counterpart when he
presented my idea as his, I learned how
to juggle work, home, raising the children,
I learned how to burn the candle at
both ends without getting burned…
I thought I was being a team player,
thought I was doing what was expected
of me, but there was no team.

It's not the life I hoped for you,
my darling daughters, and it breaks my
heart to watch that brief moment slip
away. I didn’t raise you to be chattel
I didn’t raise you to be less than.

Please believe me when I tell you
that I didn’t lie when I told you that
you can be whatever and whoever
you dream to be…I still believe it
is possible, and I intend to fight for
you and your rights until my last
breath…I have learned to look them
straight in the eyes, dare them to
objectify me, to present my own
ideas, and tell them it’s time
to make their own damn coffee…
and while they’re at it, bring me mine.


NaPoWriMo2023 Challenge Day 14: Today, I challenge you to write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. It can be long or short, rhymed or not. But take a favorite (or unfavorite) poem of the past, and see if you can’t re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines. You can use your poem to make fun of the original (in the vein of a parody), or turn the form and manner of the original into a vehicle for making points about something else (more of a satire – though the dividing lines get rather confused and thin at times).

Kind of on prompt…not satire, but definitely inspired by the amazing poem below by Gabriel Okara. Peace Y’all. Happy Friday!

Once Upon a Time
by the Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara

Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes:
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block-cold eyes
search behind my shadow.
There was a time indeed
they used to shake hands with their hearts:
but that’s gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.

‘Feel at home!’ ‘Come again’:
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice-
for then I find doors shut on me.

So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses – homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktailface, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.

And I have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.
I have also learned to say,’Goodbye’,
when I mean ‘Good-riddance’:
to say ‘Glad to meet you’,
without being glad; and to say ‘It’s been
nice talking to you’, after being bored.

3 responses to “a brief moment, lost

%d bloggers like this: