She Chose to be Strong

She knew she could become weak,
but she had the choice to stay at her peak.
She knew she could rest,
but she had the choice to be her best.
She knew she could give up,
but she had the choice to stand up.
She knew she could wither,
but she had the choice to shimmer.
She knew she could hide,
but she had the choice to fight what’s inside.
She knew she could be ordinary,
but she had the choice to be legendary.
She knew she could be another dead soul,
but she had the choice to achieve her goal.
She knew she could always crave,
but she had the choice to be brave.
She knew she could close all the doors
but she had the choice to explore the abandoned floors.
She knew she could be a survivor,
but she had the choice to be a warrior.
She knew she could not withstand the storm; and so she chose to be the storm.
She knew she had the choice; and so she chose to be strong.

An Ode to the Midwives in My Life

To the midwife who brought my first baby to the world.
Despite the doctor’s miscommunication,
she guided the lioness in me through nature’s vulnerability
the miracle of life brought to me through her hands.

To the midwife in my family, my mentor, my friend.
In my darkest place, nipples sore and breasts ready to explode,
you support me to be myself, to listen to myself.
“Relax, breathe, it is going to be alright”
you always say the words I need to hear.

To the midwife who showed us our first picture of the baby inside,
her heart beating and legs kicking, reacting to the moves I make.
To the midwife who put her steady hands on my shoulder,
guiding me through inhales and exhales.
To the midwife who reassuringly investigated my scars,
creating the safe space needed to speak.

To the midwives who’ve spent hours listening,
my worries, my joys, my expectations, my fears.
Listening to my story.

To the midwives I’ve listened to,
in maternity wards and through podcasts
invaluable words of wisdom.

To the midwife who brought my second baby to the world,
my little one so content.
She kept the room calm, speaking only when necessary,
supporting me with actions through the unbearable.
My blood, my pain, my screams.
She let me lead, when I felt nothing like a leader.
She calmed the quick storm in me,
and gave us space to welcome new life.

To all of the above who’ve helped me become who I am today.
Thank you for being with me – with women everywhere.

I Will Write Every Day

When she closed her eyes,
They said, if you open them,
We will wash them with acid.

When she opened her mouth,
They said, if we hear you laughing,
You will be suffocated.

When she raised her hand,
To ask why being a woman is a crime,
She was met with brutality.

This is neither a poem nor a nightmare,
This is my life and that of many other women,
Who are living under the weight of violence.

They forced me to wear a burqa
When I was barely a teen.
They said it was for my protection,
Still they stared at me like wolves.
I could not see under the blue cloth,
I slipped and fell.

I was livid,
But the shopkeepers laughed at me,
“Watch your step,” they said.

I heard their laughter,
And watched as they laughed at me.
But I will not be silenced.

I will write every single day.
So that my life will be a lesson and my fight, a reason not to give up.

Zahra Wakilzada is a high school student and a member of Free Women Writers. She is a writer and poet who writes in Persian and English and an advocate for gender equality and justice.

A Local Individual

It was a different Monday morning.

I could not sleep the night before.

Why? I did not know.

My heart was in pain.

 

I was scrolling through Twitter.

Nine words caught my eyes.

“We all know Muslims are behind Las Vegas shooting!”

 

What happened last night?

When I was trying to sleep, what happened?

I felt strange and broken,

Finding about sad news when the fingers were pointing at me.

 

As I learned more about it, I felt worse.

The shooter was not Muslim.

“He was not a terrorist,” said police.

He was a “Local Individual”.

 

I shook in terror because I know

This could happen in my locale

And as a Muslim, I wouldn’t know who to turn to.

You see, I am never a “Local Individual”.

My headscarf, my skin, my accent, my passport,

None of them qualify me to be a “Local Individual”.

The terror I fear is never called “terrorism”.

 

“A mass shooting took 58 lives”

Sounds passive.

A man, a terrorist, took 58 lives.

 

He closed many eyes.

He broke many hearts.

He stopped many lips from kissing ever again,

Many bodies from waking up ever again,

Many human beings from ever feeling whole again.

And if that is not terror, what is?

 

A member of Free Women Writers, Zahra is a sophomore in high school who loves writing and poetry. Zahra cares deeply about girls’ education and empowerment.