I have the weight of the stone in my belly,
And old knives against my chest.
Sometimes, this is what it is to be a woman;
The ache of the back,
The tension in the legs,
The thoughts tunnelling
From here to there
Without their safety lamps on.
I wake angry,
Like the hummingbird
Longing for its sugar water,
Chastising the world in my mind
For its callousness
As I make tea and watch the rain.
I am only stories,
Made into a heart,
Trying to keep myself propped open
Like a heavy door,
To everything kind,
To everything that matters.
The weight of the stone is weary.
It is the promise of new life
And the mourning at the breaking of it.
The kettle sings
But not the songs I’m hearing,
Which are of the women who live,
And have lived before,
Whose hands worked to keep everything together,
With each button sewn laboriously in the half dark,
With each sweep of the broom and every bucket of water,
Who cooked in the depths of winter and the height of summer,
While their clothes stuck to them, in the heat,
Who brought children kicking and screaming
Into this place
Through their power alone,
Even if they died doing it.
This was the work
That kept humanity going
And rarely made the history books.
Not the work they chose but the work they were assigned
Although they were more, always more, than that.
Amongst tasks of necessity and habit,
They found time to map the stars
And to risk themselves in body and in mind
To secure the freedoms
I consider to be mine.
The rain changes its dancing, now.
The sky is as wide
As the dreams of those women.
I am alive,
With blood, the gift of other centuries,
Moving in my veins.
My anger wilts like a flower,
And I press it between the pages of the day.
It is a luxury not to carry it always,
But I protect it,
For it will be needed
When we must change this world.