Posts Tagged ‘woman’

Beyond Beautiful

for Augusta

She is the hot rod engine,
the fuel, the transmission.
She is the race itself.
She is the door,
the picker of locks,
the opening swing, the courage
to step through the frame.
She’s the path. The steepest road.
The gentle country lane.
The quiet when the sun goes down.
The warmth when it rises gain.
She is the still of shavasana,
the leap in the merry heart.
She is the immeasurable dark,
the faithful moon,
a kite, a riotous wind.
She’s candle and constellation,
bonfire, firefly, comet that crashes the sky.
She is sky. She is faint scent of rain.
The sweet of satsuma,
the double bloom of camellia,
the nothing you can’t quite touch.
She is the key that opens your thoughts,
the song that grows your soul.
She’s the beacon at the bay,
the pelican deep dive,
the ever present tide of the seas.
She’s the luck that makes itself,
the wildflower that blooms
wherever its seeded,
the prayer that slips itself into your heart
in exactly the moment you need it. 

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What a woman really needs
is a blank sheet of paper,
which takes trees, of course,
softwood coniferous are best—
pines, firs, spruce, hemlock.
Their long fibers produce the strongest paper
able to hold the most difficult words.

And the tree needs sunlight, clean air, water.
And the tree must be cut using a chainsaw,
harvester, feller buncher. Must be moved
with a skidder or a forwarder.
Must be transported to the sawmill on a truck:
So many machines run by so many
human hands attached to human limbs
with human hearts and human hurts
and human hopes.

And of course, the woman
needs a pen for writing on the paper—
the ink no longer coming from soot
but from pigment including a solvent, a binder,
and a plethora of additives
such as chelating and drying agents—
a complex concoction suited to giving clarity
to complex thoughts.

She needs a room. Or a closet. A counter?
Or simply entry to an inner place
where there are no other voices
asking for help or offering help either.
A space where the predominant voice
she hears is her own—or perhaps,
more truly, the voice she is ripening into,
the voice that emerges when she lets the blank page
know more than she does, lets it lead her
on cursive paths that cross themselves often
but move her ever forward.

And then, with that clean sheet full of memories,
that pen with its synthesized balance,
that room with its impossible blessing,
she might at last meet what she really needs most,
that part of herself she will forever
continue to wonder about, that self
that reaches for her, that asks her to wrestle,
invites her to see what else she might find
in all that abundant blank.  

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Family Woman

Such awkward dance partners,

this longing to follow my own pursuits,

this longing to be ever available to you.

Both want to lead.

They step on each other’s feet.

One waltzes, though the other

has put on rock and roll.

One loves eye contact, the other

loves closed eyes to better feel the music.

And yet they whirl and two step every day,

taking turns swinging and dipping and bowing.

I used to think they were rivals.

Now I know neither wants to dance alone.

Even now, they’re pushing back the furniture,

rolling up the rug. There’s gonna be a real

fine hoedown tonight.

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And though I curse you

and drive you and push you,

body, you hold me,

you carry the soul,

you transform the plum

and the leaf into laughter,

you make tears out of water

and wine. You leap

and you slump, you

sing and you hunger,

you skip and run and crawl.

You let me be part of the miracle

when you made a new body within—

building spine and brain and chin

and toe out of broccoli and coffee and toast.

And when I am clumsy,

you wear the scars to remind me

where we have been. You

change, you soften, you rearrange.

You heal, you insist, you rest.

How, after all these years,

do I still find ways to ignore you?

You who have carried me across finish lines,

you who have held the weeping child?

Why, when I look in the mirror,

do I do anything but marvel

at your skill? Imagine, you breathe

without my command. You regenerate cells.

You tell the blood where to go and when.

Oh body, I’m sorry. I have hurt you. And you,

you hold me like the child that I am,

and you breathe me, you teach me,

you let me try again.

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Like a pomegranate, full

of hidden seeds.

That’s what they say

about a woman’s mind.

What they don’t know is

exactly how juicy

those seeds might be,

how full of sweetness,

how red, how if they

were planted, the world

would never look

the same again.

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What She Really Wants

When she is drought,

be rain, and when

she is rain, be cup.

When she is lost,

let her be her own map,

and when she is wind

be wind. There are trees

in her, no, whole orchards.

Be soil and sunshine and bee.

When she is seed,

be time. When she

is moon, be sea.

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The field is full of sweet clover.

This is the truest line I can write.

There was a time when,

with discriminating precision,

I cleared this field of sweet clover,

preferring only rushes and grass.

Now, after a rain-rich spring

and a sweltering summer,

the deep field is startlingly aglow

with millions of tiny yellow flowers.

The field full of sweet clover is beautiful.

This is an opinion.

A woman can think what she wants to think.

Sometimes her thoughts think her.

Beautiful. Not beautiful.

This argument stretches

past the open field.

Sweet clover has a taproot

is difficult to pull up when the earth is dry.

This is a fact.

In a woman, there are ten thousand

tap-rooted lies about how she looks

and who she is. If she pulls one up,

and even a bit of the lie remains,

it comes back twice as vigorous.

The field is full of sweet clover.

There is something so comforting

about knowing it is true,

so comforting I say it again.

The field is full of sweet clover.

There are thousands of honeybees.

The field is full of sweet clover.

I look into it like a mirror.

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Waking Up Grateful

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one

—Philip Levine, “Our Valley”

I am not your land. Not your woman, either.
Not your girl, not your scapegoat, not your Juliet.
I can’t be mapped, can’t be trapped, can’t be pinned.
Can’t be bought, can’t be caught, can’t be won.
But here I am, open handed, and here
you are. I don’t know this valley,
though I’ve walked it many times.
Let’s learn it again together. This time on our knees.

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Oh body, I’ve tried to silence you.
I have told you not to hunger
when you were starved.
I told you to run and ski and swim
when you were tired.
I tugged you long into the dark corridors of night
when you wanted to sleep.
I draped you in dresses two times too big
to hide your angled bones.
And you, you have lured me to the waterfall
to stand beneath the startling shock.
You have lain me down in tall grass
to lose myself staring up at sky.
You have curled into the softness of men
and held the fear of children.
Inside panic, you have found breath.
You have opened to let the new life pass through,
and given milk and song and hum.
And when the tears want to come,
you let them come.
Body, my vessel, my carriage, my curse,
my blessings, my bane, my teacher,
I am still learning how to be a woman.

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Do not say she is beautiful.
Say she is the engine, the fuel,
the rubber tires, the race itself.
Say she is the handle of the drawer,
the door’s brass knob, the lock unlocked.

Say she’s the path. The steepest road.
The cold when the sun goes down.
Tell her she is the infinite dark,
the orbiting moon, an eagle,
the relentless wind.

Say she’s galoshes, a garage door, the faint
scent of rain. The barren winter.
The nothing you can’t quite touch.
But do not say she is beautiful.
She’ll come to crave such dross.

Tell her she’s the twisted twig,
the beacon at the bay, the river’s
song when it meets a rock, the fog,
the leaping wild rose that blooms
and thrives any damn where it pleases.

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