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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