Couplets for heroic Texas women
June 26, 2013
Word got out about the bad bill.
College students packed up their bikinis,
went back to Austin to tell those men why
women need abortions. Seven hundred
were already there. Story after story
for the record: citizen filibuster.
Three a.m. The Speaker tells the crowd
he’s heard it all before. They roar.
The floor is cleared. Texas Democrats
never have the votes to win a thing.
Their only hope is filibuster.
Another thirteen hours. Wendy Davis,
Senator from Fort Worth, once-teenage mom,
ties on her snappy pink Mizuno
running shoes beneath her power suit
and big Texas hair. Can’t sit, can’t lean,
no food nor water, bathroom break, no “comfort
and assistance.” Wendy Davis reads
the ruled-out stories. Women with too many
mouths to feed already. One whose longed-
-for pregnancy became a fetus that
could not survive its birth. Middle schoolers.
Men remembering a sister’s or
a girlfriend’s botched pre-Roe abortion.
And many, many women pregnant
by someone who had raped them, hurt their kids.
I thought of Brittney, at fourteen, who begged
me not to tell her mom, said “Now seventeen,
that’s different, old enough to have a kid.”
Of Karen. When we both were seventeen
in 1981, you still needed,
in Canada, a parent’s permission.
We told them we were going skiing,
drove to Montana, skis strapped to the car,
and ended Karen’s pregnancy. Today
a teenage girl can’t get that in Montana.
By now two thousand advocates swell
the Capitol, flow into the night.
At last, Republicans shut Wendy up.
They say she leans. Quarter to midnight
and Senator Leticia Van de Putte
fresh from her father’s funeral, is ignored.
“When may a female senator raise
her hand and receive recognition
from her male colleagues?” The people ignore
order, warnings, holler, bang on chairs,
sing UT’s football fight song, yell For shame.
Grannies are dragged out. Minutes go by.
Ten. Fifteen. Eighteen. The bill fails!
and Wendy Davis takes a drink and pees.
Madge kept our boys, the fruit of pregnancies
I loved, up late to watch the Capitol live feed.
Elated, they Minecrafted fireworks
that read “I Stand With Texas Women.”