we are the women (audio 5:53)

The Lady of Shallot, John William Waterhouse,1888

we are the women who squatted in the fields
who birthed our babies and anointed ourselves
with a splash of impure water
we are the ones who folded the tents,
filled alabaster jars
gathered the oxen, the oils, the tambourine
and with venus perched low in the sky,
meandered through the night
toward uncertain destination

we are the women who have gnawed off
bleeding appendages
escaped from legholds and cages
draped in chiffon and lace,
plunged into icy waters to retrieve
forgotten pearls
walked through flames of inquisition,
grillings by self-pronounced judges and juries,
we were dragged to the gallows
for pledging allegiance to truth above all
and despite the shaming and the maiming,
our collective voice has never been silenced

we are the weavers, the healers,
the poets, the painters,
the mothers, the courtesans,
the daughters, the queens
the bringers of all that is lovely and alive
we walk a tautened rope separating
genius and madness
labor every single day to bring forth
the ripe fruits of creation
drip and ooze with overflowing expression
straining for release,
and in exchange for our priceless offerings
to the soul of humanity
we are offered thimbles as containers
for torrential showers of unleashed passion,
meager restitution for the strip-mining of gemfields
aglitter with beauty and wisdom

we are the women who gave it all away every time
compromised the tender blossoming of
our own interior gardens
to take up unsustainable positions
in an unrelenting world
we willingly stuffed fragments of ourselves
into strawflat mattresses
and on back burners drained of fuel,
while we obscured the breadth and depth
of our illuminative splendor

we are the women who have been blessed
with a radiant grace
and damned as harlots, Eve, Delilah, Jezebel
we carry ten thousand universes within our souls
and the knowings of eternity in every drop of our blood
we have been abandoned by fathers of damaged hearts
mothers too tightly bound
in their own misbegotten apprehensions
sisters dead-set for battle in an
unholy match of acquisition

we are the women who have carried the light
since before time began
who donned the breastplate of warrior and
scoured the countryside in acts of holy triage
we have eviscerated ourselves
in the face of twisted obligation
shrouded our all-seeing eyes from
mirrors of authentic reflection
danced on floors littered with poisoned slings
and arrows that missed their mark,
and continued to love in the face of
unspeakable predatory maraudings
of the spirit

we are the women who once agreed
to spread emergent starlight
over a scorched and burning earth
and we will not relinquish our original instructions

sanctified by divine contract and condemned
by the meek and frightened
at once scorned for being too much yet
diminished for being not enough,
we are the women who dance with the moon
cavort with fairies and roughhouse with stallions
and we will not relinquish our original instructions

we are the women who will live on, remain standing
long after others have fallen under the weight
of their own perceived predominance

we will not crumble
we will not fall

we are the women

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