By Jieen Zheng 

As a woman, 

Why can’t I feel safe on my own street? 

As a woman, 

Why can’t I feel safe in my house? 

As a woman, 

Why does my clothing become a weapon that turns on me? 

As a woman, 

Why does the tone of my voice become a rope that strangles me? I ask the teacher. 

Thee can’t walk alone Thee can’t travel alone. 

A woman is a cause 

The effect is caused by her by whom? 

By whom? I ask the teacher. 

Be careful out there 

You stop your sentence 

Be careful of whom? I ask the teacher. 

As if eyes watch wherever whenever with whomever I talk, I sleep, I stand, I walk, I run, I hide, 

None of my acts can intervene 

As a woman, 

Why would I be condemned for walking alone at night? The night is not an issue. 

Alone is not an issue 

Protect thyself is not an issue 

A woman is a verb in the passive voice 

Prepositions are oftentimes omitted 

Unnoticed because passive is weak 

An object focused upon 

But a woman can be an active voice, I said 

They are going to eliminate all the subjects from the street, the teacher said 

You make the street sounds malicious; A subject is in any place –  

A home, a neighborhood 

Every sentence must have a verb, But they blamed the object. 

Thus, no sentence to the subject 

While the protagonist is not me –  

A woman is a passive voice –  

Who is the subject in the active voice? Who writes the verb? 


Jieen grew up in Taiwan but moved to midcoast Maine four years ago. She is working on an associate’s degree at the University of Maine at Augusta, and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Southern Maine. She is passionate about writing and art. Jieen is the 2022 Plunkett Poetry Festival first prize winner.