For All of Us

For All of Us

by Taryn Muldoon


Light dashing to the ground spreads flat,
a frightened water drop
wriggling down between leaves patterning the sky
where the stream presses its body to the ground
artery of the forest, of our lives


before we climb into our words

strong-bodied in this forest of cradling arms
its hands laced above our heads
in a cathedral of leaves
legs buried to the calves
in the muscles of the stream


raising each other up

building ourselves from the flags of other people’s truths
water will not be held back

When we return from the river
into this dry, squeezing world of expectation
our legs are still wet to the knees with the dew of our inspirations

remember what was learned in the river
before we are told that our inspirations are not enough to hold us
better to towel our legs dry
scrape them clean with a razor
if we let them flower we are dirty
not quite “girl” enough for this world
and when we scrape them into silk
we are too much “girl” for it
to ever expect to hold us

and where are the boys
with wet legs and dry eyes?
I want to see them cry a river
that can flow to the ocean
pressing salt into the wounds of their egos
perhaps that can heal them
realizing they were never meant to be the ones
to hold the world up
no matter what their childhoods told them

we are built to hold this world together
on our trembling shoulders
we are all meant to cry when we break|
and nobody is built to snuff the flame
in another person’s chest

Hell yes I’m a feminist

meaning all of us
are bleeding

I am a feminist for the girl dropping out of volleyball
because someone told her “you throw like a girl”
and she thought that was a bad thing

I am a feminist for every man with blood weeping from his arm
telling everyone “I’m okay. It’s just a scratch”

I am a feminist for the woman giving up on her dreams
hanging up her carpenter gloves
tired of being told she will never be as good
as the men beside her

I am a feminist for every boy shivering in a dress
beneath his mother’s angry eyes
while his sister skips past in her pants

I am a feminist for the woman told she was a boy from birth
who feels she has to wear a skirt to be seen as herself
by those who dare try
take her womanhood away from her

I am a feminist for the woman of colour carrying her rage and fear knotted
beneath her throat
knowing some “feminists”
will pull each other to their feet
pretending they don’t see her lying beside them


I am a feminist for the Asian boy fighting down stereotype after stereotype
terrified of the day he finally breaks down
who will crutch his trembling shoulders?

I am a feminist for the person who is not a boy or a girl
who cannot see their face in any of society’s mirrors

we list a river of forever
reasons to keep trying
to keep breathing this good air and stand up
holding each other above the heads of the patriarchy
so we can finally be heard

we are here to breathe hope into this aching world
we are water drops
alone we splatter, frightened, to the forest floor
together, we build the temple
of the river

let us go out and create a world
where the rivers we wash our feet of hope in
do not run with the blood of indigenous women
where we do not lose our boys to the believing
they will never be “man enough”
let us return to the river
our legs
whatever we use to carry ourselves into tomorrow
that they will be always be strong enough
for our journeys

broken as we are
together,           we can mosaic            a future


let us stand by our sisters
and realize the riverbed
is a candle
lit for our burning mouths