Sunday, January 04, 2009

For Strong Women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears
in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't
you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
aren't you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. every baby,
tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

By: Marge Piercy


Jannie said...

Wow, this is amazing!

Thanks for sharing it.


Carla said...

Jannie, I'm glad you like it. I particularly like the second line. Such imagery.

The Fool said...

G'morning Nomad. Marge does have a way of striking home. As she says in "A Just Anger":

A good anger acted upon
is beautiful as lightning
and swift with power.
A good anger swallowed,
a good anger swallowed
clots the blood
to slime.

You might enjoy the anthology "Cries of the Spirit" a compilation of poems written by women in celebrattion of women's spirituality.

Thanks for sharing.

Carla said...

Fool, Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely look for "Cries of the Spirit."

Isle Dance said...

Wow. Eye opening. I'm still thinking. Thanks for sharing.

Carla said...

Ilse Dance, Yep, Marge has a way of doing that.

Pamela said...

that took my breath away.
battle scars. so many of them.

Carla said...

Pamela, I know. Isn't this poem amazing?

paris parfait said...

Amazing poem. Thanks for sharing it!

Carla said...

Tara, I'm glad you think so. I quite like Marge's work.

Steffi said...

Amazing,Carla!Thank you for sharing!

Carla said...

Steffi, You're most welcome.

Envoy-ette said...

omg...I'm dumbstruck. I really needed to read this. (and send it on to my sister) "Thankyou" is not a powerful enough word for sharing this.

Carla said...

Envoy-ette, It really is a moving poem, isn't it.

pandave said...

That is so incredible. You are inspiring me to resolve to be strong.

Thank you, Carla

And, to The Fool, thank you for the tip. I'm going to look for that anthology too.

Carla said...

Pandave, I'm pretty sure you already have strength in your heart. I can just tell.