Poetry by Sheila Panyam
It began the day she wrote a letter to her husband, reminding him to remember the ladies at the Constitutional Convention. While our husbands and brothers and sons fought for our nation’s independence, we were fighting a very different kind of war, and Abigail Adams died having been the First Lady but powerless to elect the next president.
It was picked up the day she, mother of thirteen, born into captivity, and twice as strong as any man she had ever served, asked why no gentleman had ever helped her, Sojourner Truth, out of a carriage, when ain’t she a woman?
It was written into the law when she decided that if the person who led the people had the power to lead her, she had the right to decide who that person would be. It’s a shame that Susan B. Anthony died fourteen years before the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified.
It was written into her gravestone, biology’s young martyr, who died from a cancer she got from working with X-rays, X-rays that she used to take a picture of DNA, the picture that was taken from her without her permission and granted three men the Nobel Prize while Rosalind Franklin was cast into the shadows.
It grew stronger that day she took a bullet to the head because she wanted to learn, because she was curious, because she thought that sisters had every right to learn what their brothers learned. When Malala Yousafzai survived assassination and kept on fighting, she showed the world that nothing could get in our way.
It finds an ally when he opens a hospital to deliver baby girls for free, to make sure their anatomy doesn’t earn them a premature death sentence. To show the world that while having a son can be what society tells you is successful, it’s having a healthy, happy child that’s the best blessing a parent could ever enjoy.
It continues, when we realize that the first time she was ever nominated for our presidency was in 1872, almost 100 years after the birth of our nation, and that after 43 male presidents, the female candidate is judged more by flaws in her clothes and her smile than any flaws in her politics.
See, she has been fighting, relentlessly, courageously, selflessly, since the day Abigail Adams sat down with paper and an ink bottle, words that were considered wasted, but in reality, started a revolution. We’re nearly there.
Sheila Panyam is a senior at Lincoln High School. She loves Speech and Debate, volunteering, playing the guitar, reading voraciously, and working on her novels. Poetry is an important part of her life, and she hopes to continue not only writing, but spreading the healing and empowering capabilities of poetry to the world around her.