When Positivity is a Righteous Struggle

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day (Love you, Mom!). Most poets I know took the opportunity to pen gorgeous, heartfelt odes to a woman or women they love. I did not.

Not because I don’t love my mom. Obviously, see above. But because I am a mom and I have given birth to two humans, biologically equipped to be moms.  Because, in our flawed democracy, it looks likely that people other than my daughters will have some power over how, when, and if they will be moms. Because this new reality has been a lot to process.

I want to emanate positivity and light, I really do. But I can’t write sweet words of flowers and chocolate and sunshine when my kids’ lives and futures are under threat. I just can’t. So today, I am writing about things I know, about the kind of mother I am, about why a small, unimpressive bird will take on any threat.

Female Red-winged Blackbird – Do not underestimate her.

These Things I Know

I’ve known men
who could spot a school of fish
in the ripple of uncharted currents,
sit motionless in frigid predawn
and discern four, eight, twelve points –
antlers from naked branches,
peer at a muddy river bank
and know how many kits
the beaver hides.

I cannot do these things.
I do not know one warbler song from another,
I cannot distinguish drifting twigs from a mink’s tail
or remember if raccoons have four toes or five.

I know why
the red-winged blackbird scolds
why it puffs its chest
mocks and mobs
why it teases death.
I know why hawk and not-hawk
circle skyward
chasing, shrieking, striking
until hawk gives up its quiet glide
powerstrokes into the distance
and red-and-black circles back

These things, I know.

And the men I know –
                do they?

This Saturday, I will be in Washington, D.C. with my daughters, marching to the Supreme Court. I will be there to remind the world that the Bible is not the Constitution, women are not incubators, and I positively will not be silent as human rights are taken away. Please, join me in D.C. or in a protest near you.

8 thoughts on “When Positivity is a Righteous Struggle”

  1. Hi, Marilyn – Thanks for your honest post. I’ve been especially distressed at the apparent cruelty/criminalization element undergirding so much of what’s going on. Our governor in SC is among those waiting for Roe to fall to enact a ban with no exceptions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In Maryland, the legislature passed a bill to expand access to abortion and to train midwives, nurse practitioners, and other licensed health care providers to perform them. This is in anticipation of Maryland becoming an “abortion destination” once Roe v. Wade is aborted. We are becoming two Americas before our eyes.


  2. (Aack – I hit something on my phone and either lost — or double-sent — a reply… I was trying to say:)
    And I neglected to comment that your poem is wonderful – the “hawk and not-hawk” line is terrific.
    Stay safe this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marilyn, I was there with you–sorry we did not run into each other! (Would I recognize you if we did?) Again, drop me a note at heidi.mordhorst.poet@gmail.com if you would like to get together in person…I so appreciate your work and your comments over at Paradise Paved, and this one is simply empowering. That whole “mocks and mobs” stanza is striking indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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