Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The One Hundredth Anniversary

Alice Smith, S. J. de Crasse, and G. H. Halleran sell copies of The Suffragist in Boston, Mass.  Bettmann/Getty          
This image comes from The Atlantic.


Dear Worried,

I think where we might be getting into trouble is in thinking that we are somehow smarter than we were some time ago.  It's so nice to feel like we are getting somewhere and celebrate the schadenfreude of how much better it is now.  Of course, yes, it is much better now.  We have no plague and we can vote, and steel can be made into tools, and no one needs to grind acorns at the rock by the river. 

And yet.  We do all this on the backs of those that came before us and we will be the stepped upon of the future, so make sure you are good and sturdy. 

Here is a scholarly article on just what we are celebrating/complaining about, and to mark the 100th anniversary of a women's right to vote in the United States, I give you Girl, a poem by Olivia Gatwood.

i don't think i'll ever not be one
even when the dozen grays sprouting
from my temple take hold and spread
like a sterling fungus across my scalp,
even when the skin on my hands is loose
as a duvet, draped across my knuckles,
even when i know everything there is to know
about heartbreak or envy or the mortality
of my parents, i think, even then i'll want
to be called girl, no matter the mouth
it comes from or how they mean it,
girl, the curling smoke after a sparkler
spatters into the dark, girl, sweet spoon of crystal sugar
at the bottom of my coffee, girl, whole mouth
of whipped cream at the birthday party, say girl,
i think, i'll never die, i'll never stop running
through sprinklers or climbing out of open windows
i'll never pass up a jar of free dum dums
i'll never stop riping out the hangnail with my teeth
i'm a good girl, bad girl, dream girl, sad girl
girl next door sunbathing in the driveway
i wanna be them all at once, i wanna be
all the girls i've ever loved,
mean girls, shy girls, loud girls, my girls,
all of us angry on our porches,
rolled tobacco resting on our bottom lips
our bodies are the only things we own,
leave our kids with nothing when we die
we'll still be girls then too, we'll still be pretty,
still be loved, still be soft to the touch
pink lip and powdered nose in the casket
a dozen sobbing men in stiff suits
yes, even then, we are girls
especially then, we are girls
silent and dead and still
the life of the party.


And here is Ms Gatwood reading Girl, and more, from her terrific book, Life of the Party.