“Mother of Exiles”

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Colossus

Photo: First Lady Nancy Reagan waves from the Statue of Liberty after she re opened the structure on its 100th birthday, 1986.

Putting our hearts and bodies where our mouths are

Best wishes to everyone putting your hearts and bodies on the line at women’s marches and other demonstrations in your towns, states, and country because we believe a better America is still possible.

 

Blessing for the Women’s March

By Erika A. Hewitt (Unitarian Universalist minister)

May you be safe.
May you be free from all harm.

As the road or skies carry you toward your fellow pilgrims,
may you sense the presence of those who travel with you in spirit,
whose hopes and hearts are tucked into your pockets,
who name your journey’s purpose as sacred.

May you encounter strangers-as-kindred,
and may that recognition of kinship bring joy to your journey.

Whether the faces in the crowd number in the dozens, hundreds, or thousands,
may you not only recognize yourself,
but may you also witness a dazzling tapestry of colors, languages, genders, ages, and bodies:
proud testament to and humbling display of our human family.

May the crowds be gentle, friendly, and patient.
If not, may the Spirit of Playfulness appoint you its momentary agent.
May you offer quiet praise for gestures of kindness.

May all bodies — vessels of spirit and soul — be treated as the gift that they are.
May the sturdiest of marchers make space for those who need more time,
more help, or a different means of moving.

May those bearing snacks share generously with others.
May you fuel yourself wisely, and hydrate.
In your hour of need, may you easily find a restroom,
and may it accommodate your body’s gender, size, and abilities.
May the line for the restroom be short.
If not, may you delight in the impulse to connect in ways mundane and profound.

Amid the heady flurry of selfies and hashtags,
may you remember the commitment that led you there,
and what will be required for the road ahead.

Gather it all up, blessed one; let it feed you.
Allow the crowds’ electric thrum to seep into you,
knitting itself into courage;
into holy boldness;
into fuel for the journey back, and for the journey forward.

http://www.uua.org/worship/words/blessing/blessing-womens-march

“what can I call us but lighthouse”

Revenge” by Elisa Chavez, in The Seattle Review of Books

Since you mention it, I think I will start that race war.

I couldve swung either way? But now Im definitely spending
the next 4 years converting your daughters to lesbianism;
Im gonna eat all your guns. Swallow them lock stock and barrel
and spit bullet casings onto the dinner table;

Ill give birth to an army of mixed-race babies.
With fathers from every continent and genders to outnumber the stars,
my legion of multiracial babies will be intersectional as fuck
and your swastikas will not be enough to save you,

because real talk, you didnt stop the future from coming.
You just delayed our coronation.
We have the same deviant haircuts we had yesterday;
we are still getting gay-married like nobodys business
because its still nobodys business;
theres a Muslim kid in Kansas who has already written the schematic
for the robot that will steal your job in manufacturing,
and that robot? Will also be gay, so get used to it:

we didnt manifest the mountain by speaking its name,
the buildings here are not on your side just because
you make them spray-painted accomplices.
These walls do not have genders and they all think you suck.
Even the earth found common cause with us
the way you trample us both,

oh yeah: there will be signs, and rainbow-colored drum circles,
and folks arguing ideology until even I want to punch them
but I wont, because theyre my family,
in that blood-of-the-covenant sense.
If youve never loved someone like that
you cannot outwaltz us, we have all the good dancers anyway.

Ill confess I dont know if Im alive right now;
I havent heard my heart beat in days,
I keep holding my breath for the moment the plane goes down
and I have to save enough oxygen to get my friends through.

But I finally found the argument against suicide and its us.
Were the effigies that haunt Americas nights harder
the longer they spend burning us,
we are scaring the shit out of people by spreading,
by refusing to die: what are we but a fire?
We know everything we do is so the kids after us
will be able to follow something towards safety;
what can I call us but lighthouse,

of course Im terrified. Of course Im a shroud.
And of course its not fair but rest assured,
anxious America, you brought your fists to a glitter fight.
This is a taco truck rally and all you have is cole slaw.
You cannot deport our minds; we wont
hold funerals for our potential. We have always been
what makes America great.

For Strong Women by Marge Piercy (1980)

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tip toe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of her eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why
aren’t you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not to be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way though a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
sucking her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is other’s loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.