to enlighten the world,
151 feet below men fear a liberty crush,
while the few courageous enough to be offended
charter a distant view of freedom
over undulating waves of top hats,
hold on tight against the sway and speak of equal rights,
those proclaimed free in 1863 dare say,
“shove [me] the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until…” (1)
I stand for freedom? I covet freedom.
It burns a red gold, like my new forged skin.
My tabula ansata evokes legal rights,
only holds a date, no written law to secure my fate
– although there is room.
There was fire before me. Verrazano, Walloons,
1712 slaves set Maiden Lane ablaze,
1741 Burton conspiracy, 13 burn at stake,
1848 – Declarations of Sentiments –
72 years before the right to count, lifetimes.
I have seen my city burn. My people burn.
Shirtwaist sweatshop, Asch Building, 23-29 Washington Place
locked doors to prevent unauthorized breaks,
146 perish, 129 women aged 14 to 42
Providenza Panno, Rosaria Maltese, 9 hour days $7 a week,
“…girl after girl…ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street,” (2)
2 years later Lucy Burns took her turn
to stoke the slow embers of right versus wrong,
hand of the law is often strong against the weak.
1972 congress passed ERA (drafted 1923 by Alice Paul)
Equality of rights under the law.
She died in 1977. It died in 1982
smoldering through failed ratification.
I’m the mother of exiles,
liberty enlightening the world,
but I am too large for men – immense in scale.
I was made in pieces, 200 crates. Agonizing unveil.
My arm was first, face second, the rest at an unsettled pace.
Exposition, fair, blood, sweat and wail, helped cast me to my place.
or lie about truth,
ticker tape parade,
Edouard Rene de Laboulaye,
copper skin beaten repoussé,
curtain wall flounced over iron truss bones.
400,000 more women than men in New York City alone.
1 The Cleveland Gazette
2 Louis Waldman
Kim graduated from the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her career in advertising has encompassed the positions of media buyer, account representative, and brand manager. She currently resides in Richmond, Virginia. She is a member of James River Writers and the Poetry Society of Virginia. Three young children, two crazy Westies, and one husband in retail, occupy her time when she is not writing short stories or working on a novel. Her poetry captures the madness and keeps her sane.
Two of her poems will be published in the July and August issues of Ascent Aspirations and a short story in the next issue of Circa, a journal of historical fiction.