Posts Tagged ‘women’

for Elizabeth Plamondon Cutler

There is no evidence, says Quora,
that permissioning is a real word.
But last weekend, when a real woman
used permissioning as a real word
to talk about a real practice
of supporting other women
to be their most magnificent selves,
I felt my whole body tingle
with the realness of it.
I had not known how deeply
I wanted this word,
especially the way she said it
as if it were commonplace,
a word as pedestrian
as gift or yes or powerful or true,
the kind of word you could toss out
on a ski trail as if it were as obvious
as snow in winter,
as clear as a Colorado sky,
that we are here to permission each other
to be influential, to be honest,
to be real as trees, real as change,
real as our dreams, our hands,
our fears, real as the words we dare
to speak with our very real voices.

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It feels right to learn the stem stitch,
to embroider bright floss through the cloth,
to move the needle and watch words emerge
in long and ropy loops.

It feels right to sit at the oblong table
with my daughter and women I’ve only just met,
where the talk is light and we laugh
as bright thread slips through our fingers.

There are so many ways the world
is falling apart. So when the teacher explains,
We step and we float, as a method for moving
from one letter to another, I take notice:

How easy it can be to change, to start something new.
How easy to connect what seems separate.
I look across the table where my daughter
concentrates on her message in lavender and blue.

What a gift to learn these lessons together.
Not too loose. Not too tight. Stay consistent, smooth.
It feels right that I stitch my skirt into the project.
Some things can be undone.

O sweet, the lack of drama, the stakes so low.
How sweet, to share this moment, heads bowed.
Because fear, because sorrow, because hopelessness,
bless these circles where we come together

and make beauty. We step and we float,
step and float, linking one moment to the next,
we step and float, meeting the world
and each other one stitch at a time.

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My mother did not forge tech innovation,

didn’t win Olympic medals, didn’t write

a textbook on equal rights.


But she did run for office. And won.

She coached the soccer team so girls could play.

At church, she led the people from the pew.


And she started a company so my father

could leave his job. I don’t think

she thought of herself as an activist.


She’ll be surprised, perhaps, I see her this way—

as a leader, a role model, an example

of a gender equal world. Because of her,


I never felt less than. Because of her,

I could see myself as doctor, poet,

model, president. Because of her,


I know how to scratch my children’s heads

each night before sleep. How

to make up a song when life is too much.


How to cry for beauty and love.

How to notice and praise

what is right with the world.

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How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.        

—Annie Dillard



I want to spend my life

cheering for young girls as they learn

what they are capable of, learn

to trust themselves and each other,

learn to become a team. I want

to spend my life looking for new ways

to say, “I am thrilled with who

you are becoming.” I want to support

other women’s daughters, all of them,

some of them with my own hands.

It’s so easy, really. A glass of water,

a hug, a word, a shoulder, a nod.

And if days are our currency, let me

spend them giving as much love

as possible, though it sounds

like a cheer, though it feels like a pat

on the back, though it looks like

a bagel, a headband, a double thumbs up.


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It hurts to be silent—

the unsaid words

sharp as frazil ice—

needle shaped and

able to slice what

inside is tender.

Still, we found ways

to be silent.

I give thanks

for the chill

that woke up

the millions of women

around the world,

got us moving

in one direction.

I give thanks

for the diversity

of messages

that inspire us

to be not one voice

but millions



As we march,

I think of the fish,

how they move as one,

sometimes daily,

sometimes annually.

They know

when to stay,

when to move,

when to give it

everything they’ve got.

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Hi Poetry Friends,

What might happen to your creative life if you treated yourself to an inspirational, intimate and well, fun four days?

I will be co-leading a painting and poetry retreat, Going Out, Going In, in Telluride with the fabulous artist Brucie Holler, and if you register before March 31, you can get a 15% discount … I am putting a link here for more information and to register. Going Out Going In Retreat


Also just for women is a 4-hour session of Lost in Motherland: Writing to Discover Who We Are(n’t) on March 23 at Wilkinson Public Library, and it is FREE!

This will be a new version of this popular workshop, always based on the same theme: Motherhood changes things. Amidst the blessings and the challenges, we transform. As one mother put it, “With my first child, I lost my interests. With my second child, I lost my identity.” How do we lean into motherhood’s paradoxical blend of miracle and loss? Writing can help. As James Pennebroke writes in Opening Up, writing “clears the mind” and helps us “understand and reorient our complicated lives” and “helps keep our psychological compass oriented.” What happens when we ask, “Who am I?” As Ramana Maharshi says, “The purpose of that question is not to find an answer but to dissolve the questioner.” What’s that supposed to mean? Come play. For more information, contact Paula Ciberay at 970-728-4519

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Why the Women Cry

Lara and I sit side by side in her rocking chairs.
Like old women. We are old women.
Or at least much older than when we first
had sleepovers at her house in seventh grade.
She would tell me her secretest thoughts
late at night and I, laying in the trundle
bed beneath and beside her would often fall asleep
in the middle. Oh how she would pummel
me then with her pillow. Her anger was
as real as her tears.


At first I think she is laughing. I turn
down the music to hear the small
gurgles in the backseat. It is dark.
Sweetheart, I say to my girl, are you laughing?
Now I hear they are sobs.


In the search bar I type:
myth why people cry.
In seconds I am led to 9,980,000
results. People crying for myth.
Myths about crying and depression.
But there are no stories I can find
about the why of the tears.


It was her nephew who died.
As we rock, we talk about him and his life.
She loved him. He was the first
child she ever knew. Avalanche.
Though it doesn’t much matter,
the why. He’s dead. She says,
I knew him, but I never really knew him.
He never totally let me in.


My daughter is scared.
Mom, she says, are there any
other cars going the same way
that we are going?
Yes, my love, I say. We are moving
at the same rate and at the same time
in the same direction, so we cannot see them.
Does it scare you that we seem to be alone?
Yes, she says. Yes, I say, it can be scary
to feel alone.


Once upon a time there lived a woman.
She was all alone. She lived by the sea.
The sea frightened her. It was vast
and deep and full of things
she could not understand.


Lara does not cry. Not tonight.
She tells me about how her nephew
has lived so much in such a short time.


Grown ups don’t cry, my daughter says,
when I tell her it’s alright to cry.
Oh sweetheart, I say, yes they do.
Mommy cries all the time.


The woman who lived by the sea
stood on the beach and looked at the water
for many, many days.
At last she said to the ocean,
what do you have to teach me?
And the ocean said nothing at all.
But she could feel in her such
a great, great emptiness
so she began to drink. At first
a sip. Then another. She could taste in it
the unfurling of the intricate undersea fans.
She could taste in the water the blood of a recent kill.
She could taste the wreckage, the rainbow,
the force of the waves. And she drank
and she drank and she drank.


When I was 23, I remember
reading in a magazine about
how if you cried more than 2 times
a week, it meant that you were depressed.
Oh, I thought, but I cry at least two times a day,
and I am the happiest person I know.


And when she had swallowed the entire sea,
the violence, the glassine façade, the sludge
and the tug and the roar and the still,
she sat on the beach and was satisfied
that it all was inside of her.
Until she remembered the pleasure,
could it be? that she’d felt when she was
more empty. Less knowing. Less full
of it all. More thirsty. More space.
The world then was more mysterious.
And she began to, what was it?
cry. Something no one had done
before. Oh the salt. Oh the sting.
Oh the ferocity of the act as the sea
spilled out of her. And sometimes, too,
she leaned into the gentleness.
And slowly the shore became a shore
and again the sea became a sea.
And the woman then understood
what it meant to gain and lose things.


This night, when I am ready for sleep,
Lara does not throw her pillow at me.
She kisses me good night, and we lean
our bodies into each others bodies,
then climb the stairs to our husbands, our beds.


Mama, she says, you cry?
Oh yes, my love. I try to imagine
how she has not seen this before.
Inside I feel the teeth of the eel,
the ship without an anchor,
the shifting of the rising shore.

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I wish you were writing this poem
about those two days you hid in the woods,
partially scalped, your legs broken, your two kids
with you, hiding from the man who promised
to kill you when he came home.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the places you go in your mind
when the men mount you and start
their furious pumping.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the day you knew for sure
that you were not beautiful.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the look on your child’s face
the moment you slapped her
for calling you Bitch. And another
poem about the moment after.

I wish you were writing this poem
to the woman who slept with your husband,
asking her everything you know
you will never understand.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the way the light hit the empty room
just after you packed all your things to leave,
and how in that light for a moment
you thought you could stay,
loving in that moment the room, the potential,
and still you knew you would go.

It would not comfort you, this poem
that you are not writing, would not make
one thing better. Would not fix, not heal,
not redeem nor transform.

But something would happen,
something unnamable and mysterious—
and from that broken, torn,
shredded place, you might create,
surprising yourself, a little more space.

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