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A Trilogy for Our Time by Jo Stewart

(I) Tree Dance


Look... Eve
Is still dancing!
Yet, in Eden’s
dawn, innocence
fell with childhood.

for knowing, she
believed her guilt,
which Ages framed
in law and myth.

high queen of court
and gutter, part
and apart, loved
and hated still.

Dear Eve,
to harmony
or dissonance
you dance and dance
around the tree.


(II) Changes

I bought the first issue of Ms. Magazine.
Was tired, early on, answering men’s questions
“What do women want anyway?
I was a true believer.
I saw, first hand, that uneven playing field,
heard the midnight sobs from those
who led lives of quiet desperation.

I marched for a failed ERA
and joined the call for equal pay.
Supportive men said,
“Women can do any job as well as a man,
except mine”

I wanted liberation along with the sisterhood.
We promised to stick together, to learn and to risk.   
We read the “Yellow Wallpaper” and vowed
not to be defined by the other gender.
No fainting ploys, no fluttering lashes, no
shaved legs would mark my ways.  Just
straight talk, opened my own doors, went to
college and realized ‘the times, they were a changing.’

I made choices along with my sisters,
recreated my life,
I was uncertain on this new terrain, fearful
even, of loosing my footing and
wondered about the cost to hearth and home
and how to measure it.

I heard the sisters expose
‘For Men Only,’ clubs.
The formal ones were easy.
Logic and fair play
won the day.  But the hidden
ones, the ones that operated in
locker rooms, board meetings,
backyards and churches created a glass ceiling
hard as steel, though transparent.

A superwoman had to be born,
one who mediated between head
and hands.  A miracle worker with
band aids and notebooks, fairly 
certain that the dish washing gene
did not lodge in humans of a certain gender.

When I, the superwoman, was displaced
because of his fear
I felt worthless and
superior at the same time.

Changes were slow--
at times nothing seemed apparent.
I lulled in the eye of the storm
while events took their course
and later marched to a silent drummer.

Is anyone to blame for the loneliness
the fright and the semi fulfilled dreams?
I don’t know!
I’ve given  the seeds, the marrow
and the juices for the next generation,
restructured my homes and used up
my life for my kind.
My daughters are tall enough to break
through the glass ceiling;
my sons seldom ask,
“What do women want, anyway.”

This section only
First published in the Blue Collar Review Autumn 2006


(III) The Rising of the Moon

In the darkness of the new moon
life went on in all its complexity
blindly even, triggered by prompts
originating in the blood’s DNA
and the requirements of law.
Demands, of the daily kind, too numerous
to record, afforded little opportunity for deliberation,
reflection or hesitation.
Fatigue and exhilaration were the bipolar
companions when progress and meaning
were hidden and magic emerged.

In that crucible of ordinary life
long term attitudes struggled
through the hard shell of custom.
Little by little, through necessity and reason,
the battle of the sexes seemed passé,
ridiculous even, as the moon began to wax.
To the enlightened, a new human freedom
was felt. 
Our daughters started cutting through the
glass ceiling,
our sons found  softer more enduring ways to be men.
Closets were opened, windows cleared.
Visibility improved and our children thrived 
in new ways.
Now, at the time of the full moon
a crone keeps a solitary vigil,
knowing that there is craziness afoot.
In other places on this earth men and  
women are starved for a more humane life;
their sons and daughters dying from
pestilence, war and hunger.
Holding them hostage, the powers,
in a conspiracy of silence and fear
know full well, or should know,
to live,
they must free the women.


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