Chitra Gopalakrishnan’s poem in Yugen Quest Review, Summer Edition, June 2022

A boundless optimism

If she does not exist 
Writers will have to bring her to life
But she does 
She has the élan vital, the vital force needed for flight 
She rises, with a mix of confidence and casualty
With a peculiar ambivalence of self-definition and self-desertion  
Airy and light as her bright, promised, hoped-for-future is at hand 
Yet wound and tight as a million tyrannies foil her freedoms
She lives her newly-powered life, unruly, restless, fierce and aspirational 
Yet accepts the thousand natural shocks her foremothers were heir to
She seizes all of life’s joyful, enthralling options, its fiery, crimson-spaces
Yet is caught within punishments for failed daughters, wives and mothers
Should resist, refuse and rule be her new vocabulary? 
To cross over generational, social and cultural boundaries, from woman to womxn
Or is there such a thing as a compassionate rebel?
Where compassion and rebellion can be combined in mutuality and caring?
Social revolutions say yes
They show people of all manner combining peacefully to act against the odds
Doomsday Cassandras say one hundred and thirty six years are needed
For the world to contain the essence of women, for womxn to be in their bodies, their future
That this unavoidable travel will spill over their lifetime 
That sisters will have to dig escape tunnels for each other till their unfettering 
If this travel is necessary then pathways are inevitable 
Ones that will carry forward their travellers to free-wheeling possibilities 
Till then, the travellers, with no guiding cartography, will have to be boundlessly optimistic
And peaceably loyal to their shared dreams of turning away from exclusion, finiteness 
If she does not exist even after one hundred and thirty six years
Writers will have to bring her to life
But she will
She will have the élan vital, the vital force needed for flight 

Chitra Gopalakrishnan is a New Delhi-based journalist and a social development communications consultant who uses her ardour for writing to break firewalls between nonfiction and fiction, prose and poetry and marginalia and manuscript.