Poet Laureate of Cobourg

Take Back the Night: And Still She Shines

I wrote this poem for Cobourg’s Take Back the Night event on September 19, 2019. I also read it at Port Hope’s Take Back the Night event on October 9, 2019.

And Still She Shines
By Jessica Outram

 shallow breath 
 memory in flickering 

 and eyes of night beasts
 burning holes through her fists 
 wrapped around keys
 and still, now
 she dreads night walks
 sometimes losing to fear
 on trails, it’s all my fault,
 scattered selves around the world
 —she didn’t ask for this
 remembering women in red dresses gone too
 beyond the medicine wheels
 she mourns for children who trust her
 to protect
 are you still there?
 am I still here?
 a story she tells herself is about tomorrow
 a story without a face
 yet tonight she shines

 when you raise up girls and women into the sun

 above homes
 around workplaces
 beyond the jungles of life
 she inhales your light
 exhaling ballads for granddaughters
 who will walk on shimmering
 streets of freedom