The Secret

I am a woman wrapped in a burka
from early morning until late at night.
I am a woman covered from head to toe
in 120 degree weather.

I am a woman wrapped up in a culture
that despises me, spits on me, beats me,
will not educate me, refuses to allow me
to even show my face outside my own
home. I know this.

I am a woman wrapped in a secret.
This is the life I was born into and
when I was 11 years old I decided
the revulsion, the beatings, the being
treated like chattel would not break me.
But rather it would make me

I am a woman, now 35, with a computer
hidden under the living room carpet.
I email, I write, I tell the world to
remember me, remember all of us
wrapped in our burkas, wrapped
up in a society that despises our
vaginas, our power over the men who
think they control us.

I am a woman who is making a
difference for women everywhere.
I am a woman who is not afraid.  I
know they will beat me until I no
longer remember my own name,
stone me until I am no more,  if any-
one ever discovers what I am doing.
I know this.

I am a woman whose mother, father,
brother, aunt, sister and children would
betray her to save their own family name.
I cannot stop the words from flowing.
I am a woman who will work tirelessly
to remove us all from bondage,  who
will never betray her sisters

I am a woman wrapped in a burka who
walks 20 paces behind her husband
when we are out in public, because…
that is where I belong. I am a woman
wrapped in a secret – I know where the
land mines are!

BACKSTORY ABOUT THE SECRET: The poem is based on truth. Originated from a prompt in Julie Maloney's, Writers Reading Aloud weekend retreat a few years ago. It won first place in the State (NJ) and nationally for Women's Clubs competition and it was included in the 2016 "For A Better World" book of poems and drawings on peace and justice by Cincinnati artists.