Category Archives: women

You who have stood at the bedposts.

We have a new baby in my parish, over whom we are rejoicing, though we haven’t met him yet; he has a few weeks to go before being brought to church on the traditional 40th day after birth. It’s a good time to post this poem that I only recently discovered. 

Every baby coming into the world is a unique event, and my own feelings about births I’ve been present for have also been various. The group of people who have been appointed, as it were, to participate, each in her own way, bring all their personalities and prayers, and God is always present. 

I’m sure that many of my readers also retain impressions and images from standing by the bedposts (or lying in the bed), during or just after childbirth. None of the photos I might put here (the one above is from the internet) are much good by comparison with the golden moments that remain our personal possessions, even if with time they lose their crispness in the mind.

“Nothing else was ever so important.”

BEING BORN IS IMPORTANT

Being born is important.
You who have stood at the bedposts
and seen a mother on her high harvest day,
the day of the most golden of harvest moons for her.

You who have seen the new wet child
dried behind the ears,
swaddled in soft fresh garments,
pursing its lips and sending a groping mouth
toward the nipples where white milk is ready —

You who have seen this love’s payday
of wild toil and sweet agonizing —

You know being born is important.
You know nothing else was ever so important to you.
You understand the payday of love is so old,
So involved, so traced with circles of the moon,
So cunning with the secrets of the salts of the blood —
It must be older than the moon, older than salt.

~ Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Here’s a little something about Carl Sandburg’s own children.

Women talking about books.

reading
Arthur Lismer – My Wife at Sackville River

What I love about our women’s book group at church is how, over the course of the year, so many different women participate, and yet, each gathering is a totally different mix of women; the literary conversation is unique and fascinating in its range of genres, and even more so in the literary lives of each woman present. Those who met this week wear a variety of “hats” in their daily life, including those of mom, wife, schoolteacher, iconographer, farmer, marriage and family counselor, librarian, and screenwriter.

Our recent meeting — our first in-person meeting in over a year! — was after a non-reading break for Pascha, and it was a short get-together solely for the purpose of picking our next book. We were all supposed to bring an idea, and then we would vote. At the end of Lent when we met on Zoom, we had planned to return to the group’s original focus on women authors, and we also hoped to read something “summery” next, not in the “spiritual reading” category.

But of the six women at the table in the church hall Sunday afternoon, half weren’t aware of those parameters. The books that were suggested were:

1 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

2 – The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

3 – The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

4 – My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

5 – Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus

6 – The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

Each of us told a little something about the book she was nominating, and then the informal and public voting began. Several of us lobbied for someone else’s suggestion. We had to choose a date for our discussion, also, which was harder, because for sure someone will have to miss that fun. People go on vacation.

Which book would YOU choose? Would you want to read a few, as we wanted? I came home and perused book covers to display here, and it was not easy to decide even among them.  If I were a graphic artist, I would think it the loveliest thing to do book covers.

I will tell you later what books we agreed upon, if I manage to read one or both of them. In the meantime, please tell me if any of these pique your interest or reaction for any reason. And I hope your own summer reading is satisfying in the best ways.

by Katie Harnett

How is the truth to be said?

THE MOTHER

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.

-Gwendolyn Brooks, 1945

Gwendolyn Brooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found this poem in the collection
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry.

 

Farm Wife

FARM WIFE

Hers is the clean apron, good for fire
Or lamp to embroider, as we talk slowly
In the long kitchen, while the white dough
Turns to pastry in the great oven,
Sweetly and surely as hay making
In a June meadow; hers are the hands,
Humble with milking, but still now
In her wide lap as though they heard
A quiet music, hers being the voice
That coaxes time back to the shadows
In the room’s corners. O, hers is all
this strong body, the safe island
Where men may come, sons and lovers,
Daring the cold seas of her eyes.

-R.S. Thomas