“Don’t call us ladies”

My mother raised me to address
with respect,
honoring dignity,
“Lady,” indicating recognition
mature, articulate, confident

Mother, Grandmother, Sister
Graduate educations
Professional mentors
Community leaders
Educators
Guides

They heard, I suppose,
deference born of superiority,
denying equality,
suggesting weakness,
implying frailty and delicacy.

I could not hear why
they could not hear why
I did not hear
as they desired to be heard.

What if I had stayed, waited
Anxious, vulnerable, uncertain
Curious, open, receptive?
What if I had asked to hear?
Teach me to listen.

I never knew what I didn’t know,
a different language –
vocabulary and structure.

Reference frames shift
as shadows with the passing sun
or is it the turning earth?

Can symbols be redeemed? Perhaps.
But not without hearing the pain
Witnessing the wounds
Bearing the crosses.

Only then may there be
Grace and mercy enough
For rolling away the stones.

© KenGCrawford, 2012

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