Phenomenal Women

On International Women’s Day, I’m thinking about all the phenomenal women I admire around the world, including the nameless, faceless, toiling women who sow and reap the corn they’ll dry and grind into the flour they’ll pound and cook to feed their families in between their hours at the river beating clothes against the stones and hauling firewood and buckets of water, and maybe on the sideline selling produce or baked goods for money to send their daughters to school.

I’m thinking about those daughters, maybe the first in their family, going to school, and the hope that holds for a better world.

On International Women’s Day I’m thinking about the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, colleagues, aunts, and nieces who bloom despite laboring in long shadows, who by sheer force of character challenge the status quo and make themselves large enough that no shadow can restrain them.

For you, this poem about one phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou, and the inscrutable force of her character.

Phenomenal Woman
Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

 

 

 

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