On Alice Paul at the Seaward-Belmont House

Abigail M. Woods

“There will never be a new world order
Until women are a part of it”

Alice Paul looks like my great-grandmother –
Or more accurately, Mamaw looked like her.
The white home-perm curls and flared nostrils
Lips always pursed, ready to comment on
Your posture or how one of the boys better
Take her fishing or she was going to switch
Their asses like when they were children.
Eyes that dealt discipline on a silent platter,
Alice probably avoided photographs if she could.
She probably laughed with a wide-open mouth,
Her head tossed backwards. She never missed the
Chance to tell you her opinion. Mamaw, though,
Was a different kind of feminist. The kind that
Leaves her husband when he hit her, pregnant and
Full of a life. I imagine her sailor mouth chattering
Under her breath as she walked, belly and all, to
The doorstep of her mother’s home. She would
Drink her red beer, and cut her friends hair until
She had a beauty-parlor to call home – and there,
She’d drink water. She raised four boys that weren’t
Hers – and it should have been five – because it was
The right thing to do. She always made sure everyone
Was fed and had a place to sleep. She slept in a bed
On her own and married a man because he took pictures
Of her instead of the mountains cascading around her.
Alice Paul looks like my great-grandmother –
Or more accurately, Mamaw looked like her.

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