In 1899, Lenna R. Winslow of Columbus, Ohio, applied for a patent for a “Voting-Machine.” He had created a mechanical system that adjusted the ballot the voter would see based on whether that voter was a man or a woman.  
—David Kindy,

When you enter the booth
through the door marked
ladies, listen for the click
and turn—levers and gears
designed to conceal.
Don’t trouble yourself,
they say, with the say
you aren’t allowed to have,
not yet. Where the partial
precedes the whole,
how not to feel partially
human, not quite
a self? When you enter
the booth, you will hear
years—years clicking
away, the grate of metal
on metal. The whole
is coming. Listen
for the turn.


Copyright © 2020 Maggie Smith. This poem was co-commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Philharmonic as part of the Project 19 initiative.