She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
A woman is like a teabag, you cannot tell how strong she it until you put her in hot water. – Nancy Reagan
What if we were the last women left alive? What if it all went wrong–horseman and trumpets, flood, general annihilation, and the only building left in the world was the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility and we had to rebuild civilization with what was left? What would the new world know?
Below, you’ll read what. We asked that question last Thursday and we didn’t deny we all think about it. Those doors close behind you with a metal clench that resounds off the cinderblocks and you think, “What if these are the last wall I see? The last faces?” But you shrug it off, that fatalistic notion. We sit down and make a life for ourselves in that room. We assess, as a group, what we have, what it means to live, to think, to write, to be a woman, man, human.
This month is women’s history month so we’re focusing on what it means to carry around any aspect of the feminine. After I read the poem, these women set up trust faster than you can inflate a life raft and just about covered it – the loss, triumph, beauty, strength, vulnerability – the grit and gold of the feminine all lived for a couple hours in that room. It was more than enough, near enough to build a world on. You’ll see. Read on.
FOUND POEM – 3/12/15
The Other Woman
I’ve never been quite sure
which one I’m becoming.
Sometimes I play in the dirt,
wear a mask, foul up my life,
The monsters are afraid of me.
Looking my bare self in the mirror,
there’s another part of me: she
is everything I could never be,
the pain she holds is her own
overflowing with any old thing,
desired, determined, that women =
strength. Which one’s which
and which one’s me?
She makes me come alive and I’m not
left suffering. Yanking each day
open with my eyes, mind-wrenching cold.
No one is shooting at me, so it’s a good day.
But so deep it creeps, the feeling that she
no longer exists… maybe if I didn’t wear a mask…
I don’t have enough time to fix this.
In the dark, the stars in her eyes
take flight, my androgynous soul.
I lust for her cold to tame the fire,
to do the unthinkable,
her love keeping me filled and full.
Can she hear me saying this?
I tell you one thing, even if you
don’t understand it:
Conceived and born, forced to conform,
I feel small, the desire of determination
burning in my veins. In those eyes
I see the fire, in her, every ounce
of feminine and masculine self.
In rebellion, my conformity has died,
a little god sliver there, torn red.
I spent most of my life in exile.
I’ve always felt lost and driven.
Separating me from her stole the glory.
Oh the thunder we could make.
I lust for her cold to tame the fire in me,
royalty in my own heart.
Through the years I’ve grown
no longer will I hide her inside.
One becoming a force so powerful—
enough to quiet a dinner table,
mixing past generations, taking
very little to make what’s there all count,
look in your eyes until you back down.
When I’m done the devil is exhausted.