Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Poem for International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day.  It's intriguing to me that this day was started by various socialist and communist groups--and now we have our first mainstream, female candidate for president running against a socialist--and the fact that he's a socialist doesn't seem to bother people the way it might 40 years ago.

After all, these days, when one says "socialist," most of us think of Scandinavia, not the Communist re-education camps of the 20th century.

Let us also take a minute to consider how amazing it is that the most qualified candidate in this campaign season, in terms of experience, is a woman.  In the past, it wouldn't have been possible for a woman to accumulate enough years of service to make that claim.  Now, even if other candidates had been running, candidates with more years of public service or military service, Clinton's years of service might actually be more impressive.

We see a similar situation in many of our mainstream churches.  When I was young, women were just beginning to be ordained--it would be many years before I saw a woman as the minister in charge, not the youth minister, not the assistant minister.  We still may not have many women as head pastor over a large staff--but in my Lutheran variation of the mainstream church (the ELCA), we don't have many churches with large staffs at all.

We have seen women in charge of whole church denominations, something that I wouldn't have thought would be possible for many decades to come.  And now, ELCA Lutherans have a female bishop who is in charge of the national church.

But my inner sociologist also insists that we note that many of these gains are available only to those of us in certain countries.  Throughout much of the world, women live very circumscribed lives.  In some cases, that might not be bad--but it's not like women have a choice in the matter.

Here's a poem that addresses this reality.  It's from my forthcoming chapbook, Life in the Holocene Extinction, which you can order here.

Vast Incarnations of Violence

We are the hollow women,
the ones of perilous
journeys: the dash through deserts
of all sorts, across turbulent seas,
always moving from south to north.

We are the hollow women,
the ones who care for your domicile
while elsewhere, you labor
guided by charts that show earnings,
expenses, the sorts of potential
that matter in the modern office.

We are the hollow women,
the ones who leave our children
behind to care for yours.
We agree never to speak
of this bargain. You imagine
that the desert colors of our skin
buy us some sort of emotional protection.

At night we dream of death’s other kingdom:
the militias and rebels,
the vast incarnations of violence.

To see how this poem interacts with others, order my forthcoming chapbook, Life in the Holocene Extinction here.  It will ship in June, and you'll have a lovely summer treat. 

You may ask, why not wait to order until it's ready?  Because the press run is determined by how many books are ordered in this time period.

So, celebrate this International Women's Day by ordering a book that will address themes of what it's like to be a woman now.  Or support your favorite women artists in some other way. 

And if you decide to celebrate by giving money to a group that helps women across the globe, that would be a great approach too.

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