Posted by: ktzefr | December 14, 2017

10 Women, 10 Countries, 10 Voices

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Thus begins Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.  Of course, all families, happy and unhappy, are alike — and different.  So, too, are women.  In these pieces of poems by women from 10 different countries there are similarities in thought and theme — feeling too small to make a difference, not wanting to look different for fear of losing a friend, worried about safety, feeling at loose ends, letting go of a dream, feeling distant from someone close, failing to speak up and choosing to run away instead, giving up on adults, but seeing love in a child’s face, having a hard time accepting the ups and downs of life, looking forward to a new, better day.  



“You have a long road to travel before you,

and tying your shoe is only the first tying.”

~ Maire Mhac an tSaoi, (The First Shoe) IRELAND



“When words grow jellylike

on people’s lying lips

I shrink into myself,

I dwindle and recede

avoiding the jellylike trails

on the roads

and all of human sliminess…

But when a little child embraces me…

my heart softens,

my heart grows large…

and the human face

returns from its exile

to dwell inside me.”

~ Fadwa Tuqan, (Between Ebb and Flow) PALESTINE



“Paper doll got tired

but said nothing,

she went on letting herself

be written on,

got flooded with ink

and just in time was saved

from dying of the last period

because she climbed onto

a paper ship

and disembarked on the sea.

There, paper doll

started swimming,

and the ocean all around

was, for an instant,

a blue soup of tiny letters.”

~ Guadalupe Morfin, (Paper Doll) MEXICO



“When you go away and I can’t

follow you up with a letter,

it is because the distance

between you and me

is shorter than the sound of Oh,

because the words are smaller

than the distance

of my longing.”

~ Fawziyya Abu Khalid, (Distances of Longing) SAUDI ARABIA



“There is a wordless tomorrow

in which I’ll forget all the chatter

it will be like the sky clearing after a rainstorm

to the washed gray of morning

the distant mountains an ink-black line

sweeping the mists away from here…”

~ Chang Shiang-hua, (Wordless Day) TAIWAN


Pillsbury Sound, USVI; Photo:KFawcett

“I placed my dream in a boat

and the boat into the sea,

then I ripped the sea with my hands

so that my dream would sink…

I’ll cry as much as necessary

to make the sea grow

so that my boat will sink to the bottom

and my dream disappear.

Then everything will be perfect:

the beach smooth, the waters orderly,

my eyes dry like stones

and my two hands–broken.”

~ Cecilia Meireles, (Song)  BRAZIL



“Today I’m a hill,

tomorrow a sea.

Always wandering

like Miriam’s well,

always a bubble

lost in the gorges…”

~ Dahlia Ravikovitch, (Magic)  ISRAEL


“My mother played us

Prokofiev’s Peter and Wolf

when I was 3 in Hamilton

she went off to work

leaving him to guard us.

In the morning she made cans.

In the evening she waited on tables

and carried a milk bottle, broken, for


~Sharon Stevenson, (Industrial Childhood)  CANADA


I don’t want a new dress, I said.

My mother plucked from her mouth ninety-nine pins.

I suppose there are plenty, she said, girls of ten

Who would be glad to have a new dress.

Snip-snip.  Snip-snip.  The cold scissors

ate quickly as my white rabbit round my arm.

She won’t speak to me if I have a new dress!

My feet rattled on the kitchen floor…

I’d rather have my friend than a new dress!

My mother wouldn’t understand, my grownup mother

whose grasshopper thimble winked at the sun

and whose laughter was made by small waves

rearranging seashells on Australia’s shore.

~ Ruth Dallas, (A New Dress)  NEW ZEALAND


“Sometimes she wished

she could do something

for herself and her people

But what could she do?

Nothing but watch and watch

for she is too small

only a sand in the big desert

no power

nothing at all

She is only herself

an ordinary person

carrying a dream

that seems so far, far, far away.”

~ Lan Nguyen, (My Life Story)  VIETNAM



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