A Blank Sheet of Paper: A Poem in Free Verse for Free Women . by Diane Wahto

Lawmakers etch their restrictions on sovereign bodies,diane-wahto

obliterate women out of existence, into servitude.

Lawmakers scribble laws, sentence women to a word

web of confinement. Lawmakers in marble halls

of statehouses, pillared halls of Washington, raise

their voices in pious tones, invoke a fantasy god

of their own devising as justification for their laws.

Lawmakers spout platitudes of concern for women,

their safety, their health, then doodle laws to bring

harm upon women. Lawmakers pray to their gods

to end abortion, lawmakers who would punish

providers, lawmakers who send their daughters

to accommodating doctors, doctors who would

never utter the word “abortion,” who instead

say, “D &C.” A woman will say “abortion,”

will say the law of her own conscience will

guide her, a law not written anywhere

but in her sovereign being. A law

on a blank piece of paper, a law

written by each woman who will

decide how she must fulfill her destiny.

Diane Wahto
received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1985 and has been writing poetry ever since. Her latest publication, “Empty Corners,” is in the spring 2017 issue of
Same. She was co-editor of 365 Days, an anthology of the 365 Facebook page poets. She lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Patrick Roche and their dog Annie.

Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.


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