To March: Tramp, Trudge, Protest, Picket, Advance, Progress, Step-Out, Strut, Swagger

by D. K. McCutchen

January 21, 2017; the crowd was so jammed together that rocking foot-to-foot was difficult. On tip-toes, pink pussy hats blended the sea of heads into lilac, interspersed with rainbow signs:

I Am Very Upset; Just No; Get your filthy laws off my silky drawers; I’ve Seen Sturdier Cabinets at Ikea; Put Government Under the Microscope; Climate is Changing Why Aren’t We?; There Is No PLANet B; Celebrate Diversity; Deport Hate; Ya Basta de Discriminacion; Girls Just Wanna Have FUNdamental Rights; The Future is Nasty; Men of Quality don’t Fear Equality; Womens’ Place is in The Revolution. We Can Do It. We The People.

There were no edges to this crowd. Everyone’s focus was on a stage we couldn’t see, speakers we could barely hear. We vibrated to the roars of the crowd and thousands of hands fluttering in the air. Helicopters overhead filmed the lilac sea covering Boston Common – a place older than the Constitution, one speaker reminded us.

I heard a yell and turned to see my six-foot, 13-year-old daughter drop her “LGBTQ Against BiGotry” sign and slide to the ground; face grey and eyes dilated. Someone, somehow, got a message to the medics. An impossible isle opened, and we carried her through standing waves of people to the medical van. The waves crashed together behind us as we marched through: Immigrant father, migraineur eldest daughter (reliant on healthcare), a veterinarian, a librarian, a teacher, and the medics carrying my youngest (who resists labels and plans to be a Chef). Strangers patted my back.

That was my Women’s March. That was the crowd of diverse, peaceful, concerned people who were also immigrants, reliant on health care, professional women, fathers of daughters, LGBTQ community, and so many others concerned about their endangered human rights and environment.

My daughter rallied, and we struggled through the crowd to the Beacon Hill Bistro to watch what the helicopters saw on CNN. Pulling back allowed us to see our lilac sea repeated in DC, Chicago, Denver, New York, Austin, LA. Soon images were coming in from the entire nation. Scenes of smaller (sometimes braver) protests flashed from across the planet, (seven continents, including climate scientists in the Antarctic: “Penguins for Peace,” “Seals for Science”). The newscaster returned us to a Boston Commons looking like a snake swallowing its tail as talks ended and the March tried to begin along a route already overflowing with people.

My daughter wanted to MARCH again so we dived back into the crowd until we hit the roadblock of Beacon street where no one was moving at all. Miraculously, we spotted my mustachioed husband in his homemade pink pussy hat bulling through the crowd like a dad making way (supporting laws) for his daughters, just as the March finally gathered momentum in a swaggering, strutting progress of 170,000, in a national movement of 3 million, in a world that showed its solidarity – and we along with them.

""D. K. McCutchen teaches writing for UMass College of Natural Sciences. Lack of poetic-DNA led to a tale of low adventure titled THE WHALE ROAD. In a literary attempt to save the world, she’s now writing gender-bender-post-apocalyptic-speculative fiction. She lives on a river with two brilliant daughters and a Kiwi, who isn’t green, but is fuzzy.


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