For two women shot to death in Brookline, Massachusetts

For two women shot to death in Brookline, Massachusetts

by Marge Piercy

How dare a woman choose?
Choose to be pregnant,
choose to be childless,
choose to be lesbian,
choose to have two lovers or none,
choose to abort
choose to live alone
choose to walk alone
at night,
choose to come and to go
without permission
without leave
without a man.

Consider a woman’s blood
spilled on a desk,
pooled on an office floor,
an ordinary morning at work,
an ordinary morning of helping
other women choose
to be or not to be
means she has fallen
into death.

A woman young and smiling
sitting at a desk
trying to put other women at ease
now bleeds from five
large wounds, bleeding
from her organs
bleeding out her life.

A young man is angry at women
women who say no
women who say maybe and mean no
women who won’t
women who do and they shouldn’t
If they are pregnant they are bad
because that proves
they did it with someone
they did it
and should die.
A man gets angry with a woman
who decides to leave him
who decides to walk off
who decides to walk
who decides

Women are not real to such men
they should behave as meat
such men drag them into the woods
and stab them
climb in their windows and rape them
such men shoot them in kitchens
such men strangle them in bed
such men lie in wait
and ambush them in parking lots

such men walk into a clinic
and kill the first women they see.

In harm’s way:
meaning in the way of a man
who is tasting his anger
like rare steak.
A daily ordinary courage
doing what has to be done
every morning, every afternoon
doing it over and over
because it is needed
put them in harm’s way.

Two women dying
because a man chose that they die.
Two women dying
because they did their job
helping other women survive
Two women dead
from the stupidity of an ex altar boy
who saw himself
as a fetus
who pumped his sullen fury
into the woman in front of him
twice, and intended more.

Stand up now and say No More.
Stand up now and say We
Stand up and say We will not be ruled
by crazies and killers,
by shotguns and bombs and acid.
We will not dwell in the caves of fear.
We will make each other strong.
We will make each other safe.
There is no other monument.

MARGE PIERCY is the author of 12 novels including her latest,The Longings of Women, as well as 11 books of poetry, and a play with Ira Wood, The Last White Class.

2009 Update: Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels, most recently Sex Wars (Harper Collins
Perennial) which also publishes her memoir Sleeping With Cats. She has 17 collections of poetry, most recently The Crooked Inheritance (Knopf) and a CD of her feminist & political poetry, Louder, We Can’t Hear You Yet (Leapfrog). Subsequent to its original publication in On The Issues Magazine in Summer 1995 “For two women shot to death in Brookline, Massachusetts” was published in a collection of Piercy’s poems, “WHAT ARE BIG GIRLS MADE OF” (Knopf ), which was one of three poetry books named by the American Library Association as Notable Books of 1997.