This is by my friend, Debby Florence. I would stand there and look you in the eye and rank it among the great poems of the world.
The Recipe for Bravery in Women’s Terms
by Debby Florence
Take salt. I am not afraid anymore, to live in my house, the rapists are standing off far away while they breathe close within us entering our dreams. They always live inside once they enter. When we disappear on the highway, some of us resurface ashamed and broken. Our sisters plant fortifying words inside our hearts, they are the only ones who can. Sometimes we’re the sisters, sometimes we’re the broken.
Winter’s end seeps through the window wells, I feed bread to my son and build my nest stick by stick for a lifetime it is never finished and I never stop. I choose my safety. The locks are easy to turn. I’m a pale flower, a start in shelter, but these sister gardeners transplanted me along the tracks in tilled soil with the others ready for light. I’ll be fruit, ripening to the romance of the crashing trains. Will the coal dust choke and shame us through the fences for wanting to live?
Our pollen carries whats been done to all our other bodies, and thus we still speak, even from the grave we speak. In other houses our limbs and tongues were slashed with machetes for speaking, and we continued to speak, and we continued to dance. We have no mother, our mother died, dance is our mother. And we all have a right to our names.
We keep a map of where they abuse us, we’re taking notes. But they rape with bodies that recycle the same sacred water as ours. Silence is a broth of water and salt that staves off hunger. Silence is not submission to starvation but a strategy to live. While we live in silence, we wish we had love and we keep making lovechildren, and the men wander away for they only love maidens, the men are under the same sky as us, stardust falling from their hair just as ours. The women’s feet stamp the earth with endless joy and power. The rapists carve our likeness in their steps. The men are fallen, trying to fly. Our brothers keep our hearts inside their mouths until they finally speak and then they become our brothers.
Dance is our lover, conscience is our partner, “the misery of women is the misery of all” “even the ones who push their strollers and Pop! it folds up right in front of us when we don’t even have a bed for our babies.” This is my baby song, my baby protest, my baby breathes fire. Take this salt and put it under your tongues.