When I was young I wanted to be male.
How genital equipment could create
profound discrepancy I’d weekly fail
to comprehend. But it appeared my fate
would be to linger kitchenbound like Mom
at parties, talking babies, food and health;
applying makeup, dreaming of the prom;
while all the men had news, prestige, and wealth.
I learned then what it’s like to be perceived
as weak and sweet and passive, classified
a maiden, my directness disbelieved,
my strength distrusted, dirtied, or denied.
I found out how unfair assumptions are
(like those of each religion organized
by men) and more, I understood they’re far
from being true, and worthless as devised.
When I was young I wanted to be male –
Perhaps I intersected history,
when women walk outside without a veil,
and girls are manifesting destiny.
A woken woman’s walking up the street
too early on a winter working day.
She’s hauled along by eager canine feet,
as ever up for exercise-is-play.
The woman carries coffee in a cup
that keeps it warm and won’t allow a spill.
She sips the brew intending to wake up,
in pauses as she climbs the gentle hill.
And then she arcs the tennis ball away,
beholds the flash of bounding muscled mass,
and marvels at the sparkle in the spray,
as dashing dewdrops splash above the grass.
Returning home, while yet the woman yawns,
her dog is grazing water from the lawns.
I would have been a feminist before
the term had currency, but I could not
create or join a movement – I abhor
the politics I’d rather we forgot.
I knew I was bohemian, except
the definition came to be confused
with hippie peace-and-love – specifics swept
beneath the rug of jargon overused.
But then I balanced in life’s middle span,
as if cocooned within a hurricane,
from which I saw my generation ran
away from bright ideals and bold disdain
and left me here, upright, alone, and free
to comprehend my personality.
A listener in search of anywhere
a word is spoken honestly and well,
could make a pilgrimage to find the fair
infrequent truth of speech. Within its spell
that listener might engineer a song,
might link realities with verbal rope,
to weave a concert durable and strong
of two parts memory and one part hope.
Perhaps she’d do an ode upon a tree,
or link a lyric to an ocean storm,
reverberate with phrase erotically,
or send a sonnet home to keep it warm.
By tapping in to daily history
she might provoke the future to reform.
At end of week, the mania asserts
itself again, till she’s compelled to glean
the world of words. She casts about; she flirts
with phrases till conceit emerges clean
enough to press its form upon the page.
And then she works with it and lets it flow
or whispers it upon her quiet stage,
until it dwindles or begins to glow.
And so the sonnets seep and spring from her,
the words as often generating theme
as following ideas that move and stir
the maker who’s a fool for self-esteem,
the jester in the palace of her brain
who juggles to suggest and entertain.
Your mission, said the leader of the class,
is to investigate without surprise.
Observe the people, solo and en masse,
but do it from the depth of quiet eyes.
Acquaint yourself with the technology,
the politics, the ethics and the art.
Collect the threads of the mythology
and find out what beguiles mind and heart.
I send you to perceive and analyze
(I’ll hold your bias and apology).
Now fetch me information; make me wise;
but don’t forget that anthropology
is snapshot-thin or else too broad to view –
The more you measure us, the less is true.
A mass of metal glows within the nest,
intensely densely yellow-cored and cold,
and roosting orange-footed, warm of breast,
the mutant goose that laid those eggs of gold.
A solemn guardian presents your choice:
Now which, he asks, would you prefer to own –
will this enchanted goose make you rejoice,
or would you rather have the stuff she’s grown?
And even though the bird requires care
beyond the vigilance that metal needs,
the chooser every time and anywhere
will gravitate to treasure that self-breeds.
So don’t you think selection is absurd
when product over process is preferred?