My Life in Simple Words
My account as I journey through Life
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Monday, June 21, 2004

Words To This Effect

What are the sources of grief:
The knowledge one is sad
Or the sadness itself?
This old disjunction, word from
Its object, is as the sudden stiffness
One discovers on rising from sleep.
In the old stories, children lost
In the wood were only that, not betrayed
Innocence dispatched to learn how
To kill the aged woman offering sweets;
And the drop of the queen mother’s blood
Had power to hold young usurpers in thrall,
Even to restore the daughter to her rightful throne.

Among the leaves littering the stone steps,
One stands on a hilltop, watching herself,
Willing the wind to sweep clear
Through her bones, blowing the years away:
Age forty-four, hands clenched stiffly
Inside raincoat pockets, the thin watch
A golden manacle. She thinks its only
A matter of how to measure the unwanted
Accelerations of the heart, a condition
Last known as seventeen: pulse fluttering
At the sound of a voice, young and male, or
The innocent pungency of naked shoulders
Turning casually away, as yet unbetrayed.

The tug of the menses
Washes over women’s words,
Submerging them in tidal patterns
Of periodic fluency, fluidity, adeptness
Measurable as the density of bone.
We are articulate only over miseries
Not our own. The moon pulls
The words from us, restoring them
When the roots of our hairs turn silver,
And our ankles are thin once more,
Light enough to bound—past
The puzzling bewitchment, the heavy
Spell gravity casts upon our cells—
Into the forests of our own making,
To appear as the enchanted deer
Or the snow queen in the stories we tell
Our daughters’ daughters on long
Winter nights.

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