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“Fantasies of Women,” by Kimberly Blaeser

24 November 2009

FANTASIES OF WOMEN

(for Carol Marefka)

They say:
there was an old woman
who lived in a shoe

children, spanking, bed, no food
it’s an old story,
one to rival the Peter tale
who kept his wife in a pumpkin shell,
or Jack Sprat who coveted
all the 90% lean cuts of meat,
while his ever-expanding
squat round wife
tumbles over the sides
of a tiny kitchen chair
over-filling the page
on which she is drawn.
We keep turning that page
but one caricature follows another.

Some claim:
women always were the delicate sex
fainting, timid, helpless souls
you know that line
the length and breadth of those
whose names have scrambled
the letters of femininity
into unrecognizable derivations
Annie Oakley, Gloria Steinem
Wilma Mankiller
Rigoberta Menchu

Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
In pants or full veil
In every state of dress or undress
Cher’s navel
the jewel on Cleopatra’s forehead

burn like all beacons of dissent.

I heard:
A nation is never defeated
until the hearts of its women
are trampled upon the earth

this one I believe
for I grew up among women
who could swallow a raw heart
whole or in infinitesimal pieces
deer heart, rabbit heart, turtle heart
and did swallow and chew
chew and swallow their own red hearts
beating for survival
for survival
for survival
for survival.

And this is the single story
we write with our lives
women of travois, ox, or minivan,
of African brown barefoot toes
bound Chinese feet
or seventy-five dollars a pop Birkenstocks.
Together we walk on our houses of history
track true
the paths of indentured servants,
girl babies slain and buried,
this black dirt of bias exposed
overcome in
story cycles of scarlet fecundity
told through the fires of many tongues
and translated again
in the labor of women.

Now we sing:
There was a young woman
who lived in a shoe-obsessed
commercialized overstocked world
she had many children
and knew just what to do

raise them to share the burdens
of all the people
to unearth the fantastic lies
they were taught to walk upon
to devour fear
chew and swallow
and to cast their hearts
for survival
.

© by Kimberly Blaeser