And Still We Shine

On September 19, 2019 we partnered with Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre to Take Back The Night in Cobourg.  We invited the Town of Cobourg’s Poet Laureate, Jessica Outram, to be a part of the rally’s spoken word program.  She wrote this moving poem.  We are grateful for her giving voice to #EndViolence.

And Still We Shine

Darkness can remind me:

shallow breaths alert

memory lurks amid flickering streetlights

centuries of silence

decades of shouting

and some voices lost

drowned by muted volume

and some voices found

raised by waving chants

and still we shine

growing up with eyes of night beasts

burning holes through clenched fists

sometimes wrapped around keys

we learned more about whistles no one hears than

violence we don’t want to talk about

and still, now

we understand what it feels like to walk in the night

thick shadows rolling like smog

mornings and afternoons

among friends and strangers

and still we shine

sometimes losing to fear

on angry trails of vanishing dignity

scattering identity like breadcrumbs

lost in the woods

the way things were and are

towering

we reach to

let go of this weight once and for all

to fly

then remember women in red dresses gone

beyond the medicine wheels

we mourn for children who trust us

to protect

we grasp lanterns with icicle hands to beam

into cracks as we whisper

are you still there?

am I still here?

and still we shine

a story I tell myself is about tomorrow

this work-in-progress

a story without a face

and still sometimes we cry

heavy innocence until we are blind

because it hurts too much to see

feel our sisters and our mothers and our children

persisting in a lingering war

so we march

our footsteps living ghosts

and yet nights can still haunt beneath a sky of niceties

and normalcy and neighborhoods with new wreaths on doors

since we know burning

houses and looted streets

can breed

behind welcome signs

yet here we are together and tonight and still we shine

brighter than ever before

lighting up truth

raising up girls and women we love into the sun

offering experience

like bottles of wine at a dinner party

redefining the circle of life with allies

this story without an ending

beginning the year you were born and streaming

united to reclaim nights and rights

we rally to undo ages of sick unbalance

assured we have already made a difference

thank god

and still

together

we shine into this night

above homes

around workplaces

beneath the jungles of our lives

inhaling our learned peace

we sing mighty ballads

one voice

beaming hope for granddaughters

who will walk on shimmering

stones of true freedom

a growing collection of gold

gushing from each confident breath

we are lit from within

impervious to the dark

bold, beautiful, and satisfied

taking back the night

claiming a light

and still we shine.

By Jessica Outram, Town of Cobourg Poet Laureate, Take Back The Night, September 2019