A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

“War Zone” by Avni Rao

And as dusk neared,
The laughs were replaced with nonchalance,
For it was dark and unsafe now
One mustn’t do something to provoke—
An ill-fated destiny

corsets hung from old, battered joints
An urge to for slim, slender, small, shrunken
Gasping, choking, fighting
They were struck by the intonation
Of its missed, beautiful dictation
of their imaginary youthfulness

they stamped on and crushed
the already fragmented backs of the women
I used as stairs
and with undeniable indignation,
they left

here she comes again, ready to fight
in the war she didn’t start
Regardless of the countless times she’s been struck,
her voice is a battle cry

She is not to be tamed
Her body is a war zone
Her tongue her weapon and her mind her bullet
we applaud her

We applaud her for fighting for the woman who was stabbed 25 times,
On a busy street,
We applaud her for fighting for the woman who was killed,
Well dressed, sneakers on, jewelry off,
We applaud her for fighting for the woman who is emotionally bruised,
and inescapably jailed.

Her lips, hips, fingertips
Are bruised,
Yet, she smiles—she raises her arms in victory
though nothing has been won
A woman’s life is the same

Except now, they know.
they know how that if one woman, alone, fights
and survives
What 3.7 billion women can do
They were warned of the hurricane,
of the storms, imminent
And as dusk neared,
their nonchalance was replaced with alarm
For it was dangerous  and equal now,
And one mustn’t do something to encourage
An ill-fated destiny

Avni Rao, 2021/22 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate cohort member, read this poem to open our 2021/22 Women You Need to Know (WYNK) Series event with Mira Jacob on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Learn more about SAL’s Youth Poet Laureate program here.


Posted in Student WritingYouth Poet Laureate2021/22 Season