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)

Stuff We’re Made Of

Rainbows and wishes
wings we give daughters

Little girl dreams destined
to hit walls – shortsighted

these laws of oppression –
for sweetness of youth
does not equate with folly

Women are warriors,
our rage underestimated.

(Tuesdays I borrow from Twitter @Vjknutson. 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)

Mental-Pause

Where do the words go
when they slip through the cracks
of my mental filing system?

And where is recognition
when words reappear,
no longer categorized
or referenced –
out of alphabetical order –

not even an inkling of recall
as if our acquaintance
is akin to discovery?

(Mental-pause first appeared here January, 2018. This version edited.
Image my own.)

Birthmark

Shunned for her sin
a young figure
rubs her swelling belly
compulsion driven by fear

Tremors from within
stunt her movement
uncertainty paralyzing
her words…

She is unwed,
repulsive to a society
reeking with ineptitude –
righteousness negating action

Unsuspecting, the baby arrives
emits a scratchy cry –
filling her lungs with hope
and anticipation, trusting

Does not know
in her stark nakedness
that her tragedy is set,
life will not embrace and provide

Poverty has marked her
for a life of hardship –
the pious turn their backs
she is, after all, born of sin.

(Image my own)