This art and poem are a collaboration by poet Louise Kantro and artist Vicki Boese, whose works were part of Modesto Branch’s ekphrastic show, “Women in America: An Artistic Celebration of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment,” which took place earlier this year at the Mistlin Gallery in Modesto, California.
Leap Across Rooftops
By Louise Kantro
“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” — Sara Grimke
Sit up straight, Little Kiki.
You are free to jump across garage roofs with the boys, but be sure
you keep up with your studies, act like a lady, learn independence.
Make us proud, Little Kiki.
Study all night, Little Kiki, Little Ruth.
Be who you are – sober, serious – but choose a fun-loving man.
You who don’t need to be taken care of are, by Marty.
You who tackles Harvard Law does so caring for a toddler
and Marty, who has cancer, and you still make Law Review.
You don’t need much sleep, Little Ruth.
Fight in court, Dear Ruth.
Battling for women and men beaten back by gender discrimination,
you lose some. Then, with a wobbly voice at first, your confidence
and success rate grow, achieving your goal of enduring change.
Don’t give up, Dear Ruth.
Reach up high, Sober Woman.
Marty, with smiles, jokes and love, becomes your momentum.
Despite your views on abortion, your clear feminism,
you become the second woman to wear the Supreme robes.
You and Sandra embrace the Feminine with your collars.
Make that High Jump, Thoughtful Ruth.
Stretch out your arms, Aging Ruthie.
Your goal always for consensus, you’re now a vocal dissenting voice. When Marty dies, so do parts of you, but you find
your smile and some whimsy, embrace being Notorious RBG.
You work out, survive cancer twice, find solace and joy in opera.
Stretch out your hands, Beloved Kiki, Ruth, Mother, Bubba, Friend.
The world is not yet fair, but your rooftop leaps bring us closer.