girlie sounds, Liz Phair said,
how girls’ voices are the least
empowered, most ignored.
Perhaps she meant too high,
too thin, too much in the register
of children and birds.
In our forever mix tape Melissa
shouts, Rhiannon croons and
even Bonnie growls a bit, the
velvet of their voices bourbon
Rock and roll never forgets &
it never remembers the backup
singers, the ones always in pitch,
in tune and never in the best light.
Sing along with the pop queens.
I don’t mean Bey or Adele; they would
be warrior queens in any age.
I mean Sara, Stevie, Fleming or Diane.
Any Diane. Raise a voice, sister.
They do it and challenge each other.
Keep up. Rise and harmonize until
the ground rumbles underfoot,
Mother singing along.
Girlie sounds. Girlie songs.
Liz was talking of 1993,
you say. She says girlie instead
of women, and that’s important.
The boys in the band were afraid
of women, afraid of feminine wiles.
Whatever, I say, to get
a rise, maybe a laugh, maybe some cover
knowing she’s right. Always.
I was there, too, my offer.
Not really, she shrugs. You were in college.
You didn’t know a thing.