(for ABC Wednesday)
Easily understandable, this poor lady's pose.
She's scared of being labelled an old maid.
She lives in an era when a husband is a must.
She's plain and it's no wonder she's afraid.
Right from childhood she's been told
That her destiny is just to be a wife.
Now that no man wants her her future's looking bleak.
What else can she be doing with her life?
She can be a governess ; or companion to an aunt,
While all her married friends look on in pity.
And all of this is destined, she feels it in her bones,
Just because she isn't very pretty.
She's putting-on a brave face, she's hiding all her fears
Anuptaphobia's got her by the throat.....
She's yearning for a gentleman to beg her for her hand
But the chances of that happening are remote.
I don't very often quote other poets but I was very taken with this poem by
It was written in response to a religious gentleman in Cornwall who berated local ladies for not doing enough housework. All my old 1950s resentments surged back and she expressed them so well!
and bring our soiled linen to the light;
we must fall on our knees confessing our faults
and scour our kitchens for stains;
and with what stern purpose we must seek
those specks that infect our murky hearts,
sweep them out and sluice them down,
that our starkest imperfections be undone.
And, today, too, we must lather and scrub
till our sins are all rinsed clean;
when our souls will shine like brand new pins
where seraphim may dance if they will;
and today we must launder the rags of our guilt,
and lift and beat the carpets of our shame;
bleach the great bowl of our wanton lust
and not omit to scrub around the rim.
We must roll up our sleeves and find mete grace
in the scalding and the starching of our hearts,
our salvation in our cooking pots and
our glory in the great gift of our days.
All this we must do with a blessing on our lips
and humility and patience in our hearts.
Father, you forget: we are half of all there is;
and we think we will be handmaids no more.