Friday, March 8, 2019

A Poem for International Women's Day: "The Hollow Women"

I have spent the first few hours of International Women's Day grading papers for my online class.  My grades are due on Monday, and a new class starts on Wednesday.  I'm not caught up yet, but I'm feeling better about my chances.

On International Women's Day, I realize that I am luckier than many women throughout the world.  I have part-time work that I can do in the wee, small hours of the morning--or any time and place that I can get an Internet connection.  I have a full-time job that pays me a decent salary with decent benefits.  I am safe at both jobs, and my employers deposit my pay without incident.

I have a lovely house in a relatively safe neighborhood.  I have food in my kitchen and a way to keep it safe until I'm ready to cook it.

I have a bit of time here and there to do the activities that feed my soul:  reading and a variety of creative work.  I have time to see friends.  My family members are in good shape.

We are bombarded, day after day, with stories of women who have not been so lucky.  It's good to remember that we still have work to do.

It's also good to remember how far we've come. 

I'm thinking of the multitude of poems that I've written about gender and history and all of those intersections.  Here's a poem that I wrote years ago that says a lot about the life of a certain class of women in modern, capitalistic countries.  It's part of my chapbook, Life in the Holocene Extinction.

The Hollow Women

We are the hollow women,
the ones with carved muscles,
the ones run ragged by calendars
and other apps that promised
us mastery of that cruel slavedriver, time.

We are the hollow women
with faces carved like pumpkins,
shapes that ultimately frighten.

We are the hollow women
who paint our faces the colors
of the desert and march
ourselves to work while dreaming
of mad dashes to freedom.

At night, the ancient ones speak
to us in soft, bodily gurgles
and strange dreams from a different homeland.
We surface from senseless landscapes
to wear our slave clothes
and artificial faces, masks
of every sort. We trudge
to our hollow offices to do our work,
that modern drudgery,
filing papers and shredding documents,
the feminine mystique, the modern housework,
while at home, domestics
from a different culture care
for the children.

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