Red Dress, White Wings: The Tale of a Handmaid

Mother says,
"Put on more clothes.
Such dress is not appropriate
for a girl like you."
She pauses her cooking and
forces onto me
the red dress and white wings
that cover my face,
my eyes,
my body,
the sin that condemns me to 
79/100 instead of 1.

"It's for your own good,"
Aunt Lydia says, 
picking up her spatula again,
but the classroom is hot.
A burning, fiery hell
relieved only by
the freeing of my limbs
from cotton confines
but that is forbidden because my
knees and shoulders will
distract
the men
in the room.
And even now, 
I can feel my indignance
melting away under the heat of
sun and stares.

"For you protection,
and safety,
and respect,"
Aunt Lydia says,
as she blocks the sound of whistles 
and the feel of
wander hands,
the fear of walking alone
under the darkness of night
that veils the gleaming eyes or
the hungry, the eager, the deprived,
who wait in alleys and
white colored vans.

Mayday. Mayday. Mayday.
I'm going down
the narrow
unforgiving
tunnel
that shuttles every
girl and
woman
into their rightful places of
mothers
teachers
nurses
secretaries.

And above us hang the 
reputations
and mocking articles with
glossy pictures of
lawyers
scientists
doctos
presidents
with each a bag on her head
and Xs across their still chests and
ropes embracing their
stiff
cold
necks.

Next to us are flashes of
red, white, blue
that have no words but radiate
power
all the same.

I am Jessie.
Or am I Ofdad, or Offeng, or Ofhim
because I don't need a name:
I am only an accessory,
an unnecessary but
pleasant addition to the 
stale Gilead air.

This poem is about: 
Me
My family
My community
My country
Our world

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