by Grace Cavalieri
NOTES ON WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN
Mother, first of all, has a saintly concern fazed into the middle air
As if she has taken the veil,
She looks the other way when father shows his abominations,
His unsavory looks, his fists. He trods her instincts,
(I see here I write about father’s rage more than her forebearing.)
Eliza is dangling in the wind
Impertinent at first, now fearful, has arranged reality to suit herself,
Her view is a mistaken effort, inexpert, followed by a dependent smile.
Did I say that she had a crawling adherence, that started with revelry,
Bur ends up being a sweet lady (Liza: wouldn’t you rather just die?)
Everina lives by aggressive missions, striking a vigorous chord.
In scale I would compare her to the woman in the next village said to eat
Small household animals I suspect she would say, “I did what I did because..”
And you would believe it. Do you know how the horses, before they start,
After the whip, have a moment? Everina lives there.
I wish I could describe the sound the heart makes. Being happy in spite of pain,
You are my one nice memory that has saved me from all the peculiar dogmatisms
That take my spirit away. You say if I can understand this,
I can understand anything.
From WHAT I WOULD DO FOR LOVE: Poems in the Voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)