Women’s Day

Regular readers of Catching Courage will recognize the name of this poem’s author, Marilyn Raymond. This is the sixth of her poems to appear here. The others are Sunflowers, That Apple, Baba Yaga, Sucking on Stones, and Anne.

Marilyn wrote the poem for a special Women’s Day service at the Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna. I was inspired by the names of so many strong, articulate, accomplished, gutsy women. And I sighed to think of the journey women have traveled and how far we have yet to go.

Covering eye art sculpture

Covering eye art sculpture, photo by Sam Mugraby from Photos8.com

I wanted to share a poem with you
that would remind us
of the long struggle for equality
that women have lived through and live in still

I wanted it to say that life is better now
That the world has opened to women
and we all have more choices

I wanted a poem that would remember the years of grief
The years of disrespect and disregard
The years when woman’s work was on her knees
was pin money
was relentless and endless and lonely
and all of her life was owned by a man

I wanted to tell you
the forgotten names of strong women, wise women,
Unitarian and Universalist women
Lotta Hitschmanova, yes, and Julia Ward Howe, Sophia Lyon Fahs
but also May Sarton, Mary Wollstonecraft, Dorothea Dix, Lucy Stone, Alice Cary,
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Mary Moody Emerson – Mary who taught young Ralph
“Scorn trifles, lift your aims; do what you are afraid to do,”
so many forgotten names

I want to tell you that it still matters
to name us human and not mankind
that “he” doesn’t cover even half of the bases

And I can certainly tell you that for all the pain
and confusion of the struggle, women love their men
—My dad, my husband, my beautiful sons, my enriching friends—
It is the work of our lives to make the relationships healthy and real
To affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person

And then my mind takes me down a dark road
to missing women, and the highway of tears
down through a pig farm and on to honour killing, sex tourism,
human trafficking and pictures of empty-eyed naked children
I could get lost there.

So I have written this poem to tell you, my Unitarian people,
That our feminist journey has been good – and complicated, and disappointing
Through frightening tangles and detours we have moved forward together.
We have helped the world wake up, a little,
along this difficult road
toward justice, equity, and compassion
We have strengthened the web
All my relations

©2011 Marilyn Raymond

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7 comments for “Women’s Day

  1. Su Stevenson
    March 23, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Beautiful. Brought a tear to my eyes. Su

  2. March 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Marilyn’s reading of the poem went straight to my heart. I’m thrilled she agreed to let it appear here.

  3. March 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    What a great poem. Please tell Marilyn “thank you” for allowing us to read it here! 🙂

  4. fae shaw
    March 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Though I wasn’t there to hear it in person, when I read this I could clearly hear Marilyn in my mind . We are very fortunate here in Kelowna at the UFK to have her poetry , her voice and her leadership over many years !

  5. March 27, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Fae & Lydia, I shared your comments with Marilyn. Her poetry is stunning. We are, indeed, lucky to have her here in Kelowna.

  6. April 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    What a powerful poem for me. I remember speaking up for women’s rights in college; I remember being chastised for obtaining birth control from a male doctor, I remember (with glee!) Title IX, I remember not being able to play Little League because I was a girl (WHAT???), I remember my bible “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and on and on. Then in adulthood I remember being shocked over the reality of sexual slavery and sexual tourism. Yes, we have moved forward, for the betterment of girls everywhere.

  7. April 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

    When I heard Marilyn reading the poem, I was so stirred. She reminds us both of the important road traveled and of the journey yet ahead.

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