to my great-great-grandmother, the second wife

What was it like?

Did you lay awake at night?

Did you have hope that someday someone would thank you for hollowing out your entire self in the name of propping up the patriarchy?

I wonder if you laid there praying to your God, crying for clarity. I hate knowing you died without it. 

I hope some part of you knew your daughters would have that clarity someday. That they would learn at their mothers’ knees to listen to a still small voice and grow into women who know that voice so well they could never deny when it quietly whispers, “Sometimes even good men are wrong.” 

It’s in our bones. Our DNA is build with strands of you that knew there is nothing virtuous or lovely about coercion. Nothing of good report or praiseworthy in oppression. 

I can picture you in despair in the bitter mountain winters, wondering how you ended up in this horrible predicament. Looking around and recognizing nothing about your life. Knowing you never truly had a choice. Trying fiercely to convince yourself it’s the right thing. 

I hope there were glorious, brilliant streaks of joy, nursing a warm baby, braiding little heads of hair, teaching the alphabet. 

You were robbed. Tricked, bullied, squashed, shamed. 


They are still trying to rewrite your sacrifice. They are still forgetting to follow Moroni’s sharp counsel and to ask if it was even God’s word in the first place. 

My gut says the men never laid awake.

Thank you.