Our Movement

Doylestown’s Devyn Costello-Henderson, a 19-year-old pro-choice activist, read this free verse poem at Saturday’s “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally.
Strike a Pose! Devyn channels her inner Rosie the Riveter.

This is not our movement.

This is the movement of our mothers and grandmothers.

Our descendants rose up 

and made us free,

made our bodies free.

So why do we have to keep fighting?

Why, after decades of liberation, have we turned the clocks back to the 1950s? 

Telling us that we have no choice—

That a potential life inside our life matters more than the lives we are living—

That our freedom was a misgiving.

Why is the right to choose 

something that we did lose?

While are bodies are under attack, there are wars 

killing hundreds everyday.

There are immigrants leaving their homes who can only pray 

that we will give them a place to stay.

And what about the people who are already on this earth? 

What about the children in the adoption system? Who have no home to call their own? 

Don’t their lives matter? 

When there is a seeing breathing human being in need of aid and rights 

why do you look to the cells—that are so slight

they barely even exist yet—

but you want to fret,

and try to make us forget 

about the living seeing breathing every human merely being people on this planet 

who should have rights, 

who should be protected 

by you, our government.

But our government was never meant to protect those of our kind,

The patriarchy protects by control—

Freedom is only for the creators.

The white men who the system was built for, 

who stifle our freedom and objectify our liberty—so it becomes a privilege and not

a right. 

I’ll tell you why. 

They are afraid.

They are afraid of our power:

The power that feeds movements like it feeds children.

The power that only grows, burning, and cannot be diffused.

Though they have tried to stifle us out.

They have called us witches—burned us at the stake.

They have demonized us from the very beginning with stories of Eve—

making us believe

that our power will only bring chaos.

They put our black sisters in bondage.

Stole the land that we now stand from the indigenous women and ripped their

children away, 

to control, to destroy, to erase. 

Abortion bans are the result of our patriarchal government—

who forbid birth control and abortion to control what they will never have control

over:

Women. 

Reproduction. 

Bringing life or not bringing life into this world. 

It is a racist system, it is an oppressive system, it is a sexist and gendered system 

that wants to turn the clocks back before roe and after the fist ban of abortion in

the 1820s.

So where does this leave us? Where is the “I” in this movement? 

You know.

This is our future

slowly slipping away—

like sand

fading through the other side of the hour glass of freedom. 

We must catch it before it all disappears.

For too long we have been sleeping.

For too long we have been wishing 

all of this is not true.

But it is for you.

It is for me. 

It is for all of us who wish to be free.

Slowly everything is collapsing around me

and I struggle to stay strong.

Strength, I am tired of being strong.

I am tired of being the fixer.

I am tired of carrying all of the universe 

on my shoulders only to have it collapse around me—

swallowing me whole

Like the black hole that is inside me,

That I am trying to fill up

with something other than the chaos of the world around me,

of which it feeds.

Why is my generation left to salvage the scraps of this world? 

Why has our earth been left in shambles? 

I want to leap out of my skin.

It seems as if the world is rejecting my presence—

hurling me out like a child rejects a spoonful of what is good for them. 

We are good for the world. The world is good for us.

But somehow the link has become thwarted, the connection is corrupt

by the adhesive which has manipulated from attracting to repelling. 

I don’t want the wreckage of the world.

I want the full future in my dreams.

To breathe and see clearly.

To walk and dance in the streets freely and without fear.

— 

So we will take up the torch once more,

because we have to.

Because the rights at stake and that have been stolen from us are non negotiable.

Because abortion is a human right that is worth the fight.

This movement is bigger than ourselves.

It is grander than this moment in time.

We are making history. 

Making history for the voices who are being silenced:

For the women, the bipoc women. 

For the youth.

For the lgbtq community.

For the immigrants.

For all of those who have been forced into the shadows.

We raise your voices—this is your movement, our movement. 

We must rise together.

Rise up together 

Like the ocean waves.

Rise up together for the women who are in their graves—

those who fought before us in the movement that live on in our history;

who transferred their power to us, so we can break the cycle, 

so we can be the last generation to fight 

for abortion rights. 

Hold your lights,

tight,

Do not let them flicker out.

You will need them,

because this is 

our movement. 

Devyn Costello-Henderson

Devyn Costello-Henderson

Devyn Costello-Henderson is a 19-year-old activist who has been organizing for the pro-choice movement in Bucks County, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. She is currently studying classical vocal performance at NYU where she hopes to combine her love of social justice and artistic performance.

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