by C. Ikpoh

Woman, come out from behind that smile. I understand how exhausting it can be to wear, especially when you wear it for everyone else. Besides, I love your frown. Not because I enjoy your discontent. No. I love it because it is you. It is your true emotion. Alas, your sorrow is not solely your own; the curse of being the greater side of our dual-gendered reality. You absorb the pain and suffering man himself cannot endure. Those things shall not be denied a home, and thus, they reside in you. Not because you are deserving, but because you are capable. You are the only being so. Yet, you are denied your empathy by patriarchal karma, and the cruel, sad truth of your existence lies in your frown. Why do I love it so, you query? I do because it reminds me of the supernatural strength you hold, of your cosmic appointment as the keeper of our specie's livelihood. You can discard the smile for me. There is no need for your lips and cheeks to quiver, straining themselves to hold their grin because society said it requires this of a woman. Lay that smile to the wayside. Leave it behind, for strength like yours holds no requiem for a mask.

Woman, come out from behind that frown. It pains me to see your expression be one of withered divinity. All that a woman is dwarfs anything I could dream to become. I am merely a man and you, well, you are eternal. You embody creation. You embody desire. You embody purpose. You are everything, and man is but a necessity in the arsenal of your grand reality. Yes, we must exist, but we are nothing special when compared to the magnitude of your glory. You are woman! You posses us, enchant us, devour us. You are to be celebrated! Should this truth not release you from the bondage of what has oppressed you since the dawn of time? You will forever be liberated in my eyes, and I shall forever be enslaved in yours. Alas, the thought of your captivity makes me smile. Does it not make you want to do the same, goddess, ruler, creator, my sweet perfection?

Woman, come out from behind your shell. You have cast aside your disguise, shattered your shackles, and now can truly be free. Discard your earthly limitations and become what you were always meant to be, for you are magical. You are all that we will never comprehend in this universe. You are what the stars are made of; as powerful and awesome as they. Woman is a god-incarnate, destined to soar higher than the angels to claim her rightful place. None other are as you are, and none shall be. Bless me with the sight of your ascension, allowing me to know I once walked alongside magnificence. Your throne is not in this world, but the next. It awaits your spirit's return. Your soul shall not be denied residence in the realm of eternity as its most honored guest. The flesh need no longer bind you to this place or to man. You have more than fulfilled your fateful calling. Return to paradise.

This, of course, is only my wish for you. Such as you are, the decision deserves to be yours, for you are woman, and you shall live behind nothing ever again.