Dawn sees a string of women
in the city waiting to board
the bus. Voices ripple in the
dark, a roll call of names,
and soon the bus rides the descending
fog, following a necklace of red
lights weaving into the Capital.
Women hold up banners,
call out, call out, call
out the king and his henchmen.
Spilling into avenues, they walk colorful
in coats, hats and scarves, chanting,
bursting into song. Yes, we shall overcome.
sister, shine this little light of mine,
yours and mine, let it shine.
Spirits take wing as words burst from lips
of women and men who work
brutal hours to lift the weak
and now lift sagging spirits.
Courage, sisters, and the women
cry back courage and power,
heat gathering in layers, the air warm with
joined wills, a giant tide gradually
curling into the perimeters.
Pramila Venkateswaran is the author of Thirtha (Yuganta Press, 2002), Behind Dark Waters (Plain View Press, 2008), Draw Me Inmost (Stockport Flats, 2009) Trace (Finishing Line Press, 2011), and Thirteen Days to Let Go (Aldrich, 2015). A finalist for the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and a first prize winner of the Two Review National Poetry Competition, and String Poets, she has published in Paterson Literary Review, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, Atlanta Review, Prairie Schooner, Kavya Bharati, Long Island Quarterly, Calyx: Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Nassau Review, and other print and electronic journals. Recent anthologies, Indivisible: Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2010), A Chorus for Peace (Univ. of Iowa Press, 2002), en(compass) (Yuganta Press,2005), Long Island Sounds (The North Scene Poetry Scene Press, 2009), and Letters to the World (Red Hen Press, 2005), include her voice among poets from around the world. She has participated in multimedia presentations of her poems and has performed her poems nationally, most recently in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Her essays on gender and culture appear in The Women’s Studies Quarterly, Language Crossings, The Writer’s Chronicle and anthologies of literary criticism. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Faculty award and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and has won residencies at Hegebrook and Norcroft writers’ colonies. She has a doctorate from George Washington University and teaches English and Women’s Studies at Nassau Community College, New York. She is the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association’s 2011 Long Island Poet of the Year and poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island (2013-15).