I come from closed doors.
doors locking me in,
doors locking me out,
doors closed by my mother,
her voice saying “Close that door!”
I come from doors I learned to close on myself,
and doors I was too frightened to open,
“Don’t go out” and “Don’t go in” and “Don’t Move”
never turning a doorknob, rapping knuckles in air.
I come from my mother’s voice saying
“No, you don’t need college”
“Learn typing and stenography.
That’s a real education.”
I come from fearing what might strike me
if I turned that doorknob.
I come from my father saying nothing.
I come from doors then closed to most women,
a society singing “No! No!” in chorus
Mother’s voice loudest of all,
her piercing descant of
“Typing, Stenography! Typing, Stenography!”
was all I could hear.
Yet, I come from books, newspapers, sermons,
from voices as shrill as my mother’s.
I come from the day when I finally noticed
how many women wait behind closed doors.
Closed doors were not just my personal secret,
Not my singular fate in my singular life.
I come from screaming
“All women are blocked by closed doors.”
I come from joining the banshees
wailing for all women.
I’ve made it my life’s work to fling those doors open,
to find those doors hidden in hallways and alleys,
to turn rusty keys and to oil creaking hinges.
I’ve pounded gates open from inside the fortress
and rattled them wide from without.
Many doors are now open,
but voices still caution…
some doors seem newly closed to me.
When I hear the voice of my aging calling,
she sounds like my mother,
though she wears a young face.