Sylvia Ramos Cruz


                According to legend, Lady Godiva rode naked through town so her husband would repeal crippling taxes on the populace. Though forbidden to look, one person peeped and was blinded.

Inez caused a sensation

like Lady Godiva, but not

Both rode horses through town for Justice—

Lady to keep townsfolk from starving

under the weight of her husband’s taxes,

Inez to wrestle women’s voices away

from their fathers, brothers, husbands

Both wore finery—

Lady modestly clad

in cascading tresses

Inez (the “most beautiful woman

ever to bite a policeman’s wrist”)

resplendent in white, flowing

emblem of 20th century

New Woman

Lady unseen in Middle Ages mist,

except by one struck blind for blasphemy

Inez ogled by thousands—men, women,

children come to see the little ladies

ask once more for the right to have

their say be counted

Lady won the day, citizens rejoiced,

skinny children managed slant smiles,

raised feeble hands to clap

Inez rode Gray Dawn on

proud back unbent, voice ringing

east to west, collapsed asking,

“Mr. President, how long

must women wait for liberty?”

Died before she saw the light

of a new day for woman’s right

Lady rides on, immortalized

in gourmet Belgian chocolates,

delighting smiley rowdy children

and overburdened parents

Pale Inez rides on, mindful

our struggle is not yet done,

her message clear,

I died so you could live

a life of your own choosing.

Do not let my death be for naught!

Vote. Vote. Vote.

                Inspired by mosaic work of Gayle Elaine Scott, “Inez Milholland Leads Women’s Suffrage March”     


SYLVIA RAMOS CRUZ writes poems inspired by art, women’s lives, and every-day injustices. Her award-winning photographs, prose and poetry appear in local and national publications, including Artemis 2020, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion, and Southwestern American Literature Journal. She is a retired general and breast surgeon, world traveler, and women’s rights activist still working to get the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution.