under appreciated

maya-angelouWomen are the one-half of humanity most likely to respond to beauty and to little children and young animals…We are the ones who bear the children and know of the effort it takes to raise a child into adulthood. We are the empathic gender … – Jean Shinoda Bolen, Urgent Message from Mother

When … [I] asked [my grandmother] of what in life/was she most proud,/ the older woman answered/each of my children lived to be/an adult. – Cinda Thompson, from ‘Homemaker’

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we turned to lesser celebrated women in our lives. Not the ones whose praises or political efforts are widely sung; not the ones whose names are on every tongue; not the ones anyone else may even have heard of. No, this week we turned to under appreciated women we have known, attempting to create a tribute of some kind. Whether responding to one of the epigraphs or the opening poem – the brief, tongue-in-cheek ‘Except for Laura Secord’ by Sylvia Maultash Warsh – or to a magazine image of a woman that resonated with us, each one in the circle had a lot to say. About invisibility.  Emotional pain.  Hard physical labor, psychic wounds, unfulfilled dreams, even the ordinary daily routine of life … so much unspoken and unsung.

But not in our circle! The writing abounds with depth of observation and feeling, a fitting way to bring Women’s History Month to a close. Except for next week, of course!

I AM HERE

The light does not expose what has
been ripped apart within.
You see this shell and it remains intact,
a fortress if you will …
Every curve has been carved to the liking
of the rain.
Every nook has been chiseled from the lining
of a touch.
In one piece, the power is mine to keep.
No window or door opens on command.
            I do not take orders.
            I do not crumble
            I am here.
            I am built to last.

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soul writing

Our ‘inside’ writers love the opportunity to write from visual images. Thanks to Deborah Koff-Chapin and her inventive Touch Drawing(TM) technique, there are a couple of decks of ‘Soul Card’ images we often use. Last night, I asked the women to allow their imaginations to describe an image through all five senses. They then posed the question ‘what if’ as in Mary Oliver’s poem, ‘how would you live then?’

I think it would be fair to say some of the women were quite surprised to find where this simple prompt led them. And Mary Oliver would be proud. The first line of her poem ‘Fox’ says just this: ‘You don’t ever know where/ a sentence will take you.’ Read on to see where you’ll be led!

credit - Deborah Koff-Chapin

credit – Deborah Koff-Chapin

WHAT IF?
What if all I could feel was loneliness?

But here I am alone; can’t I feel it?
Stuck in a dark green foggy world, state, place I call my own.
What if I was disconnected from the world?
But aren’t I?
What if I was stuck in a cold, musty room where all I could hear was the sound of my own breath? Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.
What if I only felt the warmth of my own skin against my own, the warmth of my breath as I was curled in a corner crying, scream-imagining my way out.
Cold but warm.
Happy but so sad.
Lonely but not alone.
Weak but strong.
Naked but fully clothed.
What if?
What if I could alone decide which path to walk, keep entering towards darker, deeper territory; OR walking into the light where I am no longer alone?
No longer scared, ashamed, scarred and bruised.
No longer alone.
What if?
– 
KA

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