Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In Praise of Old Women

by Marya Fiamengo
Yes, Tadeusz Rozewicz, I too
prefer old women.
they bend over graves
with flowers,
they wash the limbs of the dead,
they count the beads of their rosaries,
they commit no murders,
they give advice
or tell fortunes,
they endure.

In Poland, in Russia,
in Asia, in the Balkans,
I see them shawled, kerchiefed,
bent-backed, work-wrinkled.
But Tadeusz,
have you been to America?

Where we have no old women.
No Stara Babas,
no haggard Madonnas.
Everyone, Tadeusz, is young in America.
Especially the women
with coifed blue hair
which gleams like the steel
of jets in the daytime sky.
Smooth-skinned at sixty,
second debuts at fifty
they never grow old in America.

And we have in America
literate, sexually liberated women
who wouldn’t touch a corpse
who confuse lechery with love,
not out of viciousness
but boringly
out of confusion, neurosis, identity crises.
I go to the cemetery with my mother
one of us stoically old,
the other aging.
and I tell, Tadeusz,
I will grow old in America.
I will have no second debut
I will raise my son on old battles,
Kossovo, Neretva, Thermopylae,
Stalingrad and Britain
and I will wrinkle adamantly in America.

I will put salt in the soup
and I will offer bread and wine
to my friends
and I will stubbornly praise old women
until their thin taut skins
glow like Ikons ascending on escalators
like Buddhas descending in subways,
and I will liberate all women
to be old in America
because the highest manifestation of
Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom)
is old and a woman.

picture - Peasant Woman with Child, Russian, 1912
Kazimir Malevich


Sandy said...

That's rather wonderfully liberating -- thanks for sending it along!

Mrs. D said...

I love this! And it is so true.

Thank you!

Home from Mongolia, full of tales no one wants to hear, and wiser for it.