Friday, July 18, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

The Marvelous Women

All women speak two languages:
the language of men
and the language of silent suffering.
Some women speak a third,
the language of queens.
They are marvelous
and they are my friends.

My friends give me poetry.
If it were not for them
I’d be a seamstress out of work.
They send me their dresses
and I sew together poems,
enormous sails for ocean journeys.

My marvelous friends, these women
who are elegant and fix engines,
who teach gynecology and literacy,
and work in jails and sing and sculpt
and paint the ninety-nine names,
who keep each other’s secrets
and pass on each other’s spirits
like small packets of leavening,

it is from you I fashion poetry.
I scoop up, in handfuls, glittering
sequins that fall from your bodies
as you fall in love, marry, divorce,
get custody, get cats, enter
supreme courts of justice,
argue with God.

You rescuers on galloping steeds
of the weak and the wounded–
Creatures of beauty and passion,
powerful workers in love–
you are the poems.
I am only your stenographer.
I am the hungry transcriber
of the conjuring recipes you hoard
in the chests of your great-grandmothers.

My marvelous friends–the women
of brilliance in my life,
who levitate my daughters,
you are a coat of many colors
in silk tie-dye so gossamer
it can be crumpled in one hand.
You houris, you mermaids, swimmers
in dangerous waters, defiers of sharks–

My marvelous friends,
thirsty Hagars and laughing Sarahs,
you eloquent radio Aishas,
Marys drinking the secret
milkshakes of heaven,
slinky Zuleikas of desire,
gay Walladas, Harriets
parting the sea, Esthers in the palace,
Penelopes of patient scheming,

you are the last hope of the shrinking women.
You are the last hand to the fallen knights
You are the only epics left in the world

Come with me, come with poetry
Jump on this wild chariot, hurry –

Mohja Kahf

Poets United's own Sherry Blue Sky came across this poem and sent it to me, exclaiming, "Isn't it simply WONDERFUL?" I heartily agreed, and felt I must share it with you all.

You can read about the poet in detail at The Poetry Foundation by clicking the link on her name, above, or at Wikipedia.  Briefly, she is an Arab-American, born in Damascus, who moved to the United States in 1971. A distinguished academic, she works at the University of Arkansas, and on that website you can read about her academic career and her publications.

As well as her poetry and her scholarly writings, she is the author of an acclaimed novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. You can buy this and her other books through her Amazon page.

It seems she is exploring for herself what it means to be an Islamic woman in America, and reaching her own conclusions. This New York Times article is both entertaining and illuminating. And another wonderful poem sees both sides (and the middle!) in a culture clash.

Impossible to categorise a woman such as this, but only to admire. And enjoy! For a special treat, listen to her having fun on YouTube, making improbable subject matter sound wickedly sexy. 

You can find a number of others on YouTube also, as well as some excerpts from her novel. She is an exuberant and engaging performer. By the time I'd watched Fayetteville as in Fate, I'd quite fallen in love with her!

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. This poem is magnificent. I can only dream of being that good one day.

  2. A poem so strong! It speaks so beautifully of a woman's life her hidden powers and skills, and suffering,.... It was. A beautiful read! Thank you sherry and rosemary for sharing this with us....

  3. I leave here ringed with grins and awe! I have to share this and keep it forever. I want my friends to read it and maybe to think I wrote it. No. I want to meet her and not stop reading her work here. Gosh. A winner. Thank you.

  4. Incredible. An anthem. Thank you so much.

  5. I believe women have always been stronger than men, they were just never before encouraged to believe it.
    Powerfully said!

    1. Ronald, all I can say is BLESS YOU. As women's rights are chipped away at, bit by bit, all over the world (especially in the Middle East and Africa), I say "amen." Amy

  6. Rosemary, I so adore this poem and this wickedly wonderful woman. Thanks for researching the background, I am going to explore it all and read her books. How glorious-a feast of her words! Yippee!

  7. A lovely choice ~ Her words are powerful ~ Thank you Rosemarie ~

  8. this style of poetry reminds one of Adrienne Rich -amazing tribute and a great selection Thank you Sherry and Rosemarie

  9. Best new poem I have read in ages. Thank you.I will be reading all your suggestions
    later on.

  10. As always, I'm tickled pink to share with you all the pleasure of encountering this vibrant poet.

  11. This is just amazing. Just amazing. Sharing it on twitter and facebook right now.

  12. Sherry, thank you for not only turning us on to a beautiful poet - but giving me a poem that will hang on my wall whenever I question my own power as a woman. (It doesn't happen often, but when it does...!) Rosemary, thanks for all the extra links as well. Great work, my friends. This regular "slice" is one of my favorite long-running Poets U postings. Isn't it wonderful to read something and actually say, "I wish I had written this?" Even if the poet never hears those words, I think a little thrill shoots through the cosmos and makes her/him shiver! Amy


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