A Few Days Late – A Heck of a Poem (And One Other!) to Celebrate International Woman’s Day!!! Or to Celebrate Women on Any Darn Day!!!Please Say Hello to American Poet Bianca Spriggs!

American poet and multidisiplinary artist Bianca Lynne Spriggs (1981- )

What Women Are Made Of

   There are many kinds of open.
        — Audre Lorde

We are all ventricle, spine, lung, larynx, and gut.
Clavicle and nape, what lies forked in an open palm;

we are follicle and temple. We are ankle, arch,
sole. Pore and rib, pelvis and root

and tongue. We are wishbone and gland and molar
and lobe. We are hippocampus and exposed nerve

and cornea. Areola, pigment, melanin, and nails.
Varicose. Cellulite. Divining rod. Sinew and tissue,

saliva and silt. We are blood and salt, clay and aquifer.
We are breath and flame and stratosphere. Palimpsest

and bibelot and cloisonné fine lines. Marigold, hydrangea,
and dimple. Nightlight, satellite, and stubble. We are

pinnacle, plummet, dark circles, and dark matter.
A constellation of freckles and specters and miracles

and lashes. Both bent and erect, we are all give
and give back. We are volta and girder. Make an incision

in our nectary and Painted Ladies sail forth, riding the back
of a warm wind, plumed with love and things like love.

Crack us down to the marrow, and you may find us full
of cicada husks and sand dollars and salted maple taffy

weary of welding together our daydreams. All sweet tea,
razor blades, carbon, and patchwork quilts of Good God!

and Lord have mercy! Our hands remember how to turn
the earth before we do. Our intestinal fortitude? Cumulonimbus

streaked with saffron light. Our foundation? Not in our limbs
or hips; this comes first as an amen, a hallelujah, a suckling,

swaddled psalm sung at the cosmos’s breast. You want to
know what women are made of? Open wide and find out.

Bianca Lynne Spriggs from Black Girl Magic, Haymarket Books, 2018

Call it what you will: list poem or catalogue poem, this poem rocks! And what a celebration, what a hallelujah for women! I love reading it with attitude at poetry retreats! First released in Poetry in April 2018, by Ohio University English professor Bianca Spriggs, I came across it in the fabulous anthology, Black Girl Magic, volume two in the The BreakBeat Poets series published by Haymarket Books in 2018. To hear Bianca perform her poem please click here.

This poem looks good on the page but it also sounds great in the ear! This poem would not be out of place in any Spoken Word venue. It has that kind of energy.  And that energy is anchored in the first sixteen out of twenty-eight lines by the repeating we are. Ten repetitions! They flow so seamlessly it’s easy to miss them! And then she shakes up the poem towards its end with her three questions.  This slows the poem down and gets us ready for the bold and dare I say, provocative, last sentence: Open wide and find out. Well, the poem has also already done that.  The real and imagined of what a woman is made of according to Bianca.

2018 was a very good year for Bianca. That year another poem of hers was the most viewed poem on the Split the Rock literary organization’s website which keeps a large database of social justice related poems. This is such a real honouring of another woman. Someone and whose weeping could have been easily overlooked or ignored. Here it is below:

To the woman I saw today who wept in her car

I get it.

We are strangers,
but I know the heart is a hive
and someone has knocked yours
from its high branch in your chest
and it lays cracked and splayed,
spilling honey all over
the ground floor of your gut
that you’ve trained
over the days and years
to stay put, swarm
the terrain of your organs,
right here in traffic,
while we wait for the light to change.

I get it.
How this array of metal and plastic
tends to go womb room
once the door shuts,
and maybe you were singing
only moments before
you got the call

or remembered that thing
you had tucked back and built
such sturdy scaffolding all around,
and now here it comes to knock
you adrift with only your steering
wheel to hold you up.

Or, maybe today
was just a tough day
and the sunlight
and warm weather
and blossoming limbs
and smiling pedestrians

waiting for their turn to cross
are much too much to take
when you think of all that’s left
to do, and here you are,
a reed stuck in the mud
of a rush hour intersection,
with so very many hours left to go.

I know you.
I know how that thing
when left unattended
will show up as a typhoon
at your front door
demanding to be let in
or it will take
the whole damn house with it.

I know this place too.
I get it.

But because we are strangers,
because you did not see me see you,
my gaze has no more effect
than a phantom that stares at the living.
And yet, I want you to know that
today, in the hive of my heart,
there is room enough
for you.

Bianca Lynne Spriggs from Split This Rock://www.splitthisrock.org/poetry-database/poem/to-the-woman-i-saw

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