An opulent, footed silver bowl overflows with ripe cherries in front of a dramatic dark background. Additional fruits lie on the table below the bowl, and a butterfly flutters to one side.
NMWA kicked off the museum reopening on October 21, 2023, with Alexa Patrick, who performed her poem “Possibility,” written in honor of the occasion.


by Alexa Patrick

Studies have shown that we acquire language from our mothers
before we are born, that by the time we are born, we can even
decipher our native language from others.

Shhh…Do you hear it?
these gallery walls sing
to us, their vibrant dialect
of color, material, movement,
teach us what our hands can do
when they are steady, and intent.

Do you hear it?
a museum of chronicled change
of which women have not only
always been part, but of which
we’ve been a vital center.
Never asking for power,
but demanding it like an eye
to a canvas, that says, yes,
I am here and no,
I am not moving.

The year is 1610. 
Fede Galizia paints a bowl 
of cherries so sure they shine
like apples we are allowed to bite.
We, snakeless, and brilliant 
and if built from bones it is 
from our own spines. 

The year is 1939. 
I imagine Alice Neel
painting her elegy for the living.
How there were wars in Harlem,
and wars abroad and in that small room 
a war within a man’s body
that now lives forever.

The year is 1993, 
and a “Nana” is pregnant with
something that could be me.
Reaches high towards sky as if 
her back don’t ache, feet 
don’t hum their dull reminder 
to rest.

Yes, as our shoes metronome this marble,
kiss sacred ground, 
may we find every piece 
holding close possibility
like a language
native to us all.

For if not for these pieces pinned 
to this building like brooches, 
I would have no words now 
to share with you, myself. 

Not all women, mothers,
not all mothers, women,
and yet, here, I am knelt 
like a child. Listen for their 
knowing echoes and respond:

Thank you, Fede!
Thank you, Alice!
Thank you, Niki!
Thank you, Frida!
Thank you, Chakaia!
Thank you, Amy!

and Georgia! and Alison! and The Guerrilla Girls! and! and! and!

for carrying our culture,
giving us bricks to build
resistance, revolution, 

‘cause when we speak, 
when we speak,
you hear them all singing
at the backs of our throats!

© Alexa Patrick. This poem may not be reproduced in part or in its entirety.

NMWA’s Grand Reopening with “Possibility” by Alexa Patrick

Get a glimpse into the museum’s reopening celebration and an excerpt of “Possibility,” performed by Alexa Patrick.