• Thinking of the 8th of March Again


    “This was, in (Virginia) Woolf’s view, the archetypal female writer’s fate: ‘so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty.’ It is far easier, she suggests, to find ‘some Emily Brontë who dashed her brains out on the moor’ than one who ‘blazes out’ of obscurity.”
    —Edward Rothstein

    this doesn’t hold true for our women, ms woolf

    in our country
    women who write paint sing dance sculpt
    or build & at the same time need to
    cook launder & iron clothes
    then run to nurse a wailing infant
    are better than circus artists
    who cross a high wire without
    a pole to balance their steps
    or a safety net below to break a fall

    we live by chance or by choice
    in large extended entangled families
    in compounds & complexes
    where in-laws & such
    poke their noses into our affairs

    so much for a room of one’s own

    in our home hangs
    an old norma belleza oil painting

    imagine the making of it

    she lets the beef stew simmer on low fire
    while she makes time to
    lean a canvas supported by a chair
    against a paint-streaked wall

    she quickly fills up the blank space with colors
    & images of fish-mongers & flower vendors
    dignified by the work they do

    or pays homage to the unpaid
    full-time homemaker seated
    at the edge of the marriage bed
    done with the day’s chores
    (new stanza)
    tired wistful but still awake
    awaiting her man’s return

    by the time the painter signs her name
    the beef is tender the potatoes and carrots chewable
    the greens still crisp in their greenness
    the broth hot rich & soothing

    whether painter or writer
    peace advocate or impassioned ideologue
    dancer modestly covering or
    baring breasts in a smooth gesture of grace
    our women resist the tug of
    the swirling waters of despair

    as for our pockets filled with stones
    we choose pebbles
    to improvise rattles
    & similar noisemakers
    for the little women after us


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