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A Companion to the Women’s Marches

 

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For Strong Women

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbel
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 the 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 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 through 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
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others 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
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

– Marge Piercy in Circles on the Water

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Anthem Before Inauguration

 

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Anthem- Leonard Cohen

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

 

Photo Credit: photopin.com

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My Slip Is Showing

 

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Once upon a time women would not leave the house without wearing a proper undergarment we called “a slip”..this explanation intended, of course, for a newer generation who is perfectly happy with laced thongs!
A story from my tenure in high school dovetails perfectly with this poem that emerged this morning. My father introduced me to the world of 1950’s Hollywood musicals which I came to love, along with John Raitt. The spring I graduated Raitt stared in a production of “Oklahoma!” performed on the floating stage of the Aqua Theatre on Green Lake in Seattle. Dad took me as a graduation gift. I was walking on air to the Aqua Theatre with scores of other people when I noticed that my slip was slipping, the absolutely worst faux pas of 1962. I ducked behind the nearest tree to pull it up and emerged red-faced and relieved to have set the world right again.

My slip is Showing

when we get old
we don’t mind anymore if our slip shows
its shocking ruffle of black Chantilly
sashaying under our outer armor.

let the young be shocked I say
for shock shakes the souls of the old
exposing the richest parts to innocent adoring eyes
and transforms limitation to fine laced truth

© RIta H Kowats 1-5-17
Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/357825132871751312/

Since The Big Bopper’s song “Chantillly Lace” is stuck in my head, I might as well share the agony and the ecstasy with you:

 

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Blessing for 2017

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I am indebted to John O’Donohue once again for this lovely poem.  It seems I will forever learn at the soul of this great contemporary mystic. Josie is John’s mother who died after him in 2011.

 

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

“A New Year Blessing”
Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us)

 

 

Photo Credit:  Pastor Linda Roddis

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Pocket Presence

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Pocket Presence

 

“I will pack you up in the pocket of my heart and take you with me,” I found myself saying to my cat Sherlock as I left on my walk.  What a lovely thought.  Where did it come from?

My sister in spirit at my church was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last week before Christmas.  I don’t know her well, but it doesn’t matter. I carry her in the pocket of my heart.

This is what we do when we hold vigil with someone.  We don’t become  them, but while living our own lives we keep them present.  We create a space in our being where our presence intersects with their presence.  A God space where both are free to be who they are while supported by each other’s spiritual energy.  Holding Vigil.

P.S. After I posted I bumped up against this gem passed to me by a soulfriend.  The last lines complete my thoughts.  Unless we give up the clutter there won’t be space for pocket presence.

Instructions

Give up the world, give up self, finally give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

Poem: “Instructions” by Sheri Hostetler, from the anthology A Cappella: Memmoite Voices in Poetry”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:  http://www.123rf.com/photo_5608107_new-style-back-pockets.html

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This Time In Between

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I.

Now is the Time In Between
When the dissipated shards of last year
Crunch under the feet of the new year coming.
We watch couples stroll arm in arm in parks,
Their blithe children trailing on their Christmas bikes.
As we watch we muse
Over New Year’s resolutions
Scattered among the fragments of 2016

II.

The spent year spins a yarn
About hawking the common good
To the highest bidder
But it was also a year
In which lost conscience
Was found.

III.

Watchers no more, we resolve to sift the shards,
To separate life from death.
We choose Life for ouselves
And for blithe children playing.

© Rita H Kowats. 12-27-16

 

 

Photo Credit:   

A “SoulCard” by Deborah Koff-Chapin.  The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.”  The  cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  www.soulcards.com

Used with permission from the artist

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The Phoenix

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The Phoenix

Last night the Longest Night
Hunkered down into the comforting folds
Of darkness, holding light at bay
For just a few more seconds of incubation.

Today she commences
The season of sloughing
When her dark cocoon opens to light
Second by second until Daylight
Dazzles with sparks of the divine
Drawing her into soothing warmth
And the blast of the refiner’s fire.

© Rita H. Kowats 12-22-16

Photo Credit: Daniel Tran Cathedral of Light Sydney’s festival, Vivid Sydney

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The Thaw

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The Thaw

 

Lifelines, once malleable networks of grace
Have become static tendrils stretched
In a circuitous highway to nowhere
No more kicks on route 66.

Lifelines freeze up without
Time, solitude and silence
To stoke the fire of grace
Waiting to thaw
The once intimate connections
Gone rigid with neglect.

Do you hear their call?

 

© Rita H Kowats 12-19-16

Anticipation

Christmas SoulSeam

 

Photo Credit:   

A “SoulCard” by Deborah Koff-Chapin.  The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.”  The  cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools.  They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with.  www.soulcards.com

Used with permission from the artist