Seeds of the Fierce Feminine

for my grown son, Michael

Today, my mother’s birthday, I am
picturing you in that study of news clippings,
fifty notebooks, the current events
of your lifetime carefully sorted and saved,
stored away like seeds of a future history.

Saved in memory, who can say why, the September
bazaar and those dazzling pink wine glasses
the seller called seeds
for the future of my cottage industry. Then you,
prosecuting a trial, and tears on the pink cheeks
of a witness I see reflected there. Yes, she was bad,
but with that brother I wonder what worse she bore.

There is something trying to get said here,
pushing its way up from the ground of my being
where it fell as I listened to news on
public radio today:
                                                      A woman in India,
though hardly a woman at seventeen, threw herself
into the river intending to end her miserable life.
She didn’t drown, but washed ashore in Pakistan—
which is illegal of all things. Arrested by military
police, she was thrown in jail. There her jailer
raped her, though he denies it, and she bore
a daughter who was raised for six years in that cell.
DNA tests prove he’s the rapist and father. India
won’t take the woman back because her child
is Pakistani. Pakistan, poised to manifest
nuclear weapons, doesn’t want the mother—
an Indian. Also the jailer has never been punished.

And then there it is, Michael, we are clothed
in sun and I know what I have to say: I am
a woman, a mother, a daughter—each time
something is done to one of these, it is done to me.

—Andree Graveley