Speaking Rudes: After Mona Lisa | Meredith Leigh Payton

*This poem comes from the author’s manuscript, Hollering Girls.*

You are known for your smile, yet
when my face contorts like yours the
man on the street spews “cheer up, baby!” or
“smile for me sweetheart!” And
I wonder if they
spoke those rudes at you,

known for that small smirk, that
hint in your eye, like you knew men
would forever believe they owned your

You who are gawked at without a moment
to yourself.
You who are framed and hung on a wall.
You who are claimed.
We claim you.

Meredith Leigh has had poetry and lyrical essays published in Peal and The Feminist Wire. She is a proud (and sometimes loud) feminist who lives in Asheville, NC. When she isn’t reading or watching The X-Files, she’s practicing yoga and playing with her golden lab, Clementine.


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