Tuesday, April 6, 2010

a woman's worth

Below is a poem I wrote a few years back. I had been berating myself for not being able to get one of my friends to "see" what it was I was saying, despite my abilities to articulate myself 'rationally' and logically. Over coffee, she had confided to me that she was being beaten by her husband, but I was unable despite all of my education to say anything that made any real difference. What was the use of my work on women's issues when I couldn't even help my friend on the most basic everyday level?

As I went about my kitchen chores the next day, my inability to say anything practical to her nagged at my mind, bothering me. I spontaneously decided to go to the Northern Woman's Bookstore. Maybe a book might have the answer, or provide some direction, I thought. So, I went looking for a book, what kind I didn't know but I thought I needed a self-help, what-to-do to help a friend who is being abused kind of manual. Some kind of a social work, psychology based book, that would tell me step-by-rational-step what to do, what to say, how to help.

Well, I didn't find a book, I talked to Margaret, the owner, instead. She listened patiently as I voiced my confusion and incompetency. The books I browsed as I talked with Margaret stayed on the shelves and I left without buying one. When I came home, I sat at the kitchen table and wrote down these words.

A woman's worth

Upon hearing of the beating
of wings
stifled in the craw
of a slender throat.

A woman’s worth
is not the guts to do it or
the number of checkmarks
she scores in the morality
book of the nation,
or her extended family.

It is not measured by the scales of shame.

A woman’s worth
is not found in size 5
knees-together skirts,
in the tightness of a non-tummy,
or a toe-ring.

A woman’s worth
is found in the soft white feathers
flying, unexpectedly,
at the corners of her eyes.

A woman’s worth
is found in her grandmother’s legs,
the strides she takes
each morning
towards the little girl
on the other side
of the looking-glass.

A woman’s worth
echoes from the smallest sigh
at the kitchen sink
reverberates in the canyons
of her soul.

A woman’s worth
is not found under the thumb
of a man’s need, in the ripple
of his insecurities, or monitored
by the pulse in his left cheek.

A woman’s worth
is not found in the clamp of jaw
the bite of tongue
the downcast eye
the corset of her feelings, rib-caged.

A woman’s worth
is not found by wishing
washing or wallowing
in pink pill-popping
serotonin serenity.

A woman’s worth
is not found
in a swan song
a startled deer
yellow wallpaper
shrinking violets
or minced words, tied
to a heart, crushing.

A woman’s worth
is found in the notebooks of a dreamer,
the father’s daughter, who,
woke up one morning and said,
I won’t be part of it.

A woman’s worth
is found in the magic wand
she wields while walking
her own terrible landscape.

A woman’s worth
streams through her veins,
coursing through the untrodden
garden of her body.

A woman’s worth
is found behind the unlatched gate,
between the leaves
of the Tree of Good and Evil,
inside the nesting dolls,

find Persephone.


Merche Pallarés said...

You didn't need any self-help book. Your poem is very complete and beautiful. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

thx merche,

when i get a minute i will visit your blog and catch up on reading.

Anonymous said...

Taina, your poem brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat..so exquisitely beautiful...so profoundly true. Would you ever consider sharing it with a group on Facebook called The International Year of the Woman? Susan M

Salma said...

This is adorable writing, profound and indeed you managed to release the voice within so softly yet strongly.

Wondering if you write any poetry forms, I'm interested in any sort of communication if it's ok with you.