By Sophie Trist
Honorable Mention, Poetry, Create | Encounter 2022
To the world, you are just a name,
Just a body to be picked apart, violated
Litigated out of humanity.
They called you, your mother Emma, and your newborn daughter Vivian imbeciles.
They said three generations was enough.
Your teachers said you were bright, but they took you out of school so you could do housework.
They punished you for being raped,
For being poor,
For being a girl who was not what they thought a girl should be.
I think of the church ladies' judging words,
Sharp as the justices' cruelty,
Cutting like the doctors' scalpels
And I could weep, Carrie.
I wonder who you were as a girl.
What color was your favorite dress?
What songs did you sing when nobody could hear?
Where did you go to dream?
I hold your tears and your laughter in my heart, Carrie.
We carry you on our national conscience,
A crime we don't speak of,
Court cases don't speak, but people do.
Whether the world wants you or not, Carrie,
You lived on in defiance.
After the violation, you fell in love and got married, built a family.
To every poor woman,
every disabled woman the world tries to throw away,
you are a sister, the icon you should never have had to be.
Your final indictment and battle cry rings in our ears,
More human than any court opinion or treatise.
Toward the end of your life, you said simply, "They done me wrong. They done us all wrong."
"Dear Carrie" is essentially a letter to Carrie Buck, the subject of the 1927 Supreme Court case that allowed for the involuntary sterilization of poor people and people with disabilities, reflecting on what her life and legacy mean to me as a disabled woman.