The Photo Album

Adolescence doesn’t wear a smile
in our old photo album –
stares fixated on unseen lint –
distracted, we three sisters,
all reeling from the cold,
unwell, immobilized…

What is absent is the photographer
whose pointed directions critique
each decision – a derisive repetition
that eats at our souls, each girl
wrestling with self-nurture vs
self-annihilation, landing somewhere
in between – mannequin targets
for male abuse…

Oh, I tried to take up arms, rail against
the dominance, the oppression, but
only succeeded in settling for disconnection,
while one sister turned tricks for attention,
the other retreated into full dependency,
her madness, out of date, nevertheless
relevant – despite our tormenter’s death,
the images are permanently recorded
in that old photo album.

Age Has Her Own Quest

What is it that a woman of maturity quests for?

Autonomy: to feel that her decisions/wants/needs
are not overshadowed by the dictates of another,
or by a past that is forever looming.

Empowerment: to know, once and for all, that
the victim is laid to rest, so that she can embrace
her authentic self.

Inner peace: to live without guilt or the need for
permission. To be able to forgive and self and other
in order to be free. To trust, innately, her own
inner resources, releasing fear’s hold.

Sacredness: to stand firmly upon the Earth,
breathe freely, and engage with life. To make
a difference.

Celebration: to live with anticipation, surprise,
and ultimately joy.

Connection: to recognize in each living moment
that none of the above is obtained in a bubble.
I quest for true connection. The bravest quest of all.

(Reading through old posts I came across one from November, 2014 which inspired this write. Image my own.)

It’s Time, Women

It’s time to resurrect
our confidence,
recapture the sensitivity
of intuitive knowing,
acknowledge the power
of our resiliency

We are women –
merciful companions,
healers attending
Divinity’s passage,
peace-seekers
directing life’s journey.

Too long have we equated
self-esteem with
patriarchal agendas,
disappointed with
our inability to meet
media standards,
blamed ourselves
for divorce,
disease,
staying home
to raise the children.

It’s time to honour
our strength, restore
feminine worth,
align our resources

We are iron grace,
mindful caregivers,
mate with intention,
our vulnerability,
our sensuality,
aspects of intrinisic
wisdom; we are
keepers of the dream,
beings steeped
in mystery –

It is time!

(Originally penned in 2017, It’s Time, Women deserved another look. Image my own)

Young Woman, I See

Young woman, I see your pain
remember a time when I too
struggled for autonomy, purpose

Wish I could reach across
the span of generations, mirror
the beauty that I see, release

the tangle of deception that binds,
facilitate your potential, help
advance your journey, lift you

beyond the clutter and noise
and deliver you to freedom, but
your book has not been written

and the chapters need to unfold
as they will, and I am no deity
who sees with clarity the path

you must choose, the destiny
that calls you – trust that life
is educational, and you bear

the resources to see your way
through; celebrate your hunger
and rejoice in your triumphs

I will watch with nostalgia
and the pride of recognition,
for your giftedness is real

your optimism a worthy tool,
and I know you will succeed –
have faith in your tomorrows

for you were born to shine
and the pages of your memoir
await experience’s depths.

(Young Woman, I See first appeared here in September, 2017. Image my own)

Not Taking It

We climbed so high
this mountain of man
made obstacles –

I remember the rage,
no more than 9 –
how helpless it felt

a girl in a man’s world
but I climbed anyway,
we climbed anyway

and, instead of a hand up
we get this? Patriarchy
be damned! Your days are
numbered. Mark my words.

(Tuesdays I borrow from Twitter. Image mine)

Martyr’s Lament 2

I’ve decided, he said, to spend
more time doing what I want to do

I feel the load close in around me,
already burdened by his “me” time.

I’ve learned, she said, to look out
for number one; will not be available

Nice, I think, that you have such luxury
while I tend to the children, chase after
my mother’s needs, hold down the fort.

Take time for yourself – interesting counsel
when responsibility is so ingrained, and
self-care comes across as selfish.

Have so long ago erased personal interests,
will have to shop around to find what it is
that would allow me to abandon obligations.

They’re Just Family, After All

In anticipation of guests,
the hostess – always bent
on pleasing – carefully selects
the script, ascribes roles,
envisions an afternoon
of light repartee, peppered
with philosophical pondering –
satisfactory entertainment.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, confident
in the outcome, fatally smug.

Crowd arriving, she fails
to read disinterest in eyes,
politely attempts to orchestrate
interactions, while they cast about,
calculating, shunning protocols
of etiquette, dispersing in
an unsettling way, then returning,
savagely encircling their prey.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, panic rising,
confusion overriding confidence.

Unprepared to defend herself –
bears no arms but the giving type –
she ducks, grasps, attempts
retreat from the onslaught
of vindictive agendas, but the wall
of stored grievances, spotlighting
a history of injustices, corners
her, hopelessness in its wake.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells herself, knowing
full well the legacy of pain.

It’s friends, in the end,
who save her – a surefooted
cavalry, bearing the swords of
understanding, compassion
their war cry – reigning in the
once-invited, now betraying
guests – objective hearts
demanding an end to the fray.

They’re just family, after all,
she tells them, tells herself,
composure a mere thread.

Tables turned, the offenders
now plead for forgiveness,
beg for help, pretend the slights
were unintentional, harmless,
expect their hostess to step
over the bloodied and slain bits
of herself, and with benevolence,
restore her love for them again.

They’re just family, after all,
she says weakly, the torn script
of her expectations scattered.

(My art, entitled She Stands In the Middle of It All. This poem first appeared May, 2016)

Perfect

I’m being a good girl, Dad
Staying out of sight
Keeping my needs to a minimum
Promise I don’t cry, Dad.

I’m being a good wife, Dad
Cooking all his favourites
Letting him walk ahead
Never uttering a peep, Dad

I’m a perfect background wife, Dad
Just like you taught me; just like Mom
Only no one has to hit me to make me
behave, Dad; I learned it good from you.

(Image my own)