Marge Piercy

AGA Roll Call: For Strong Women

    A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
    A strong woman is a woman standing
    on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
    while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
    A strong woman is a woman at work
    cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
    and while she shovels, she talks about
    how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
    the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
    develops the stomach muscles, and
    she goes on shoveling with tears
    in her nose.

    A strong woman is a woman in whose head
    a voice is repeating, I told you so,
    ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
    ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
    why aren't you feminine, why aren't
    you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
    aren't you dead?

    A strong woman is a woman determined
    to do something others are determined
    not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
    of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
    a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
    to butt her way through a steel wall.
    Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
    to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

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