Once Were Women

Not entirely sure how the strangeness of this poem came about. I found the trail and followed it, is all.

Once Were Women
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

There was a woman who lived in a very
small house. She had small rooms
and small chairs and her door was
small and her windows were small
and when she spoke, her words
came out small and her life was just so
small and no one was surprised
when she ran away from her small house
and went to live in the wilderness.

That other woman lived in a crooked place
and her paths were crooked and her
couch was crooked and the pictures
were crooked on her walls and crooked
was her way of walking and when she spoke
the words tumbled crooked from her mouth
and everyone understood when one day
she stood up straight and stretched her spine
and went to live with the small woman
out in the wilderness.

The very tall and thin woman with
a thin, thin smile, one day she smiled
wide and went to live with the women
who lived their wild lives in the wilderness.
And the woman who tried to be invisible:
she let herself be seen one day and she
ran out to join them, too, and the woman
who used to start every sentence with “Sorry.”
And the one who ate only leaves,
and the one who had headaches,
and the one who bought all the shoes,
and the one who painted everything grey,
and the one who swallowed her song,
and the one who was afraid of the rain.
Off they ran, and they became wild
as the animals, and some of them became
animals and some of them became
raindrops and some of them became
the red oak leaves quivering in the wind.
And they lived.
Happily.
Ever.
After.


Gratitudes:
1. I came downstairs this morning and Youngest (who is in a negative and defiant phase), said, “Ooooh! I like all those colors!”
2. We saw a fox on the way to school! I took a dirt connector road that I’ve been avoiding because the farm cats on that road don’t seem to have enough fear for cars, and trotting down the road ahead of us was Red Tod himself. He ducked into the underbrush before we passed.
3. There’s a Moms group at our school that gave each teacher a gift bag this week: yummy snacks, coffee, tea, mints, trail mix, a Post-it notepad, and a shiny silver pen. It was a big morale boost.
4. At least now that we’re definitely going virtual for a while, it will relive me of the sense of something impending. This feels like a really good call. I was just beginning to feel unsafe.
5. Having hard conversations–I feel like I am growing in my ability to engage conversations without getting defensive and without trying to appease, just sitting with the challenge of it, saying my part, and listening empathetically. (I hope I didn’t jinx myself by saying that.)

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” —Kate Braestrup


“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” —Neil Gaiman


“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors, but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” —Kahlil Gibran


“To write is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if the answers are true or puro cuento. After all and everything only the story is remembered, and the truth fades away like the pale blue ink on a cheap embroidery pattern.” —Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo


“With guns, you can kill terrorists.
With education, you can kill terrorism.” —Malala Yousufsai


“The [one] who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius, The Analects


“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” —Wendell Berry

Once Was a Woman

I’ve been doing a little series of short-form poems with the idea of a middle-aged woman at the center of a fairy tale. I have been playing with writing prose fairy tales on the subject, but short-form poetry works more easily into my schedule, and the condensed qualities of poetic forms lend themselves to the cryptic and mythic thinking of the fairy tale. In these beginning stages of perimenopause, I fine myself comparing notes with my younger self at menarche, noting the ways that the hormonal shifts affect me: energy pits, headaches, emotional bounces, self-doubt, bursts of confidence. I’ve done quite a lot of fairy tale analysis over the years, from feminist reinterpretations, to Jungian dream-style considerations, to uncovering layers that reveal ancient goddess stories. The constant through most of the stories is the girl, the girl, the girl. I’m walking out the other side of the woods now, or walking into a different woods altogether. I feel a need of re-imagining the girl-hero’s journey as she begins her croning time.


Gratitude List:
1. Fairy tales and what lies beneath them
2. Warm blankets
3. Stir fry on noodles, with hot sauce. The other night, we added brussel sprouts to the stir fry, and the boys just ate it up without comment or complaint. And they chose chopsticks over forks. For some reason, that made me especially happy.
4. People around the world who are standing up for human rights and for the planet.
5. Tiny little personal escapes throughout the busy moments of the day. Five minutes into a poem. Two minutes into a deep breath. A glance through a Luci Shaw or Jean Janzen book on the writing process, a quick dip into the world of a beautiful picture, a quick friendly chat with a colleague or student.

May we walk in Beauty!