Liz’s Weekend Poetry Series: Woman!

by lizard

I’d like to congratulate Missoula Independent’s Skylar Browning for being included in Ina May Gaskin’s new book, Birth Matters.

So for this weekend’s poetry series, I decided to grab the anthology No More Masks: An Anthology Of Twentieth-Century American Women Poets (edited by Florence Howe) from the shelf, and found these two poems by Denise Levertov. Enjoy!

*

STEPPING WESTWARD

What is green in me
darkens, muscadine.

If woman is inconstant,
good, I am faithful to

ebb and flow, I fall
in season and now

is a time of ripening.
If her part

is to be true,
a north star,

good, I hold steady
in the black sky

and vanish by day,
yet burn there

in blue or above
quilts of cloud.

There is no savor
more sweet, more salt

than to be glad to be
what, woman,

and who, myself,
I am, a shadow

that grows longer as the sun
moves, drawn out

on a thread of wonder.
If I bear burdens

they begin to be remembered
as gifts, goods, a basket

of bread that hurts
my shoulders but closes me

in fragrance. I can
eat as I go.

*

HYPOCRITE WOMEN

Hypocrite women, how seldom we speak
of our own doubts, while dubiously
we mother man in his doubt!

And if at Mill Valley perched in the trees
the sweet rain drifting through western air
a white sweating bull of a poet told us

our cunts are ugly—why didn’t we
admit we have thought so too? (And
what shame? They are not for the eye!)

No, they are dark and wrinkled and hairy,
caves of the Moon… And when a
dark humming fills us, a

coldness towards life,
we are too much women to
own to such unwomanliness.

Whorishly with the psychopomp
we play and plead—and say
nothing of this later. And our dreams,

with what frivolity we have pared them
like toenails, clipped them like ends of
split hair.

—Denise Levertov


  1. 1 An April Feast Of Poetry « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Woman! […]

  2. 2 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Anticipating April | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Woman! […]

  3. 3 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

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