Goddess Poem // Poetry

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We are told we are essential, life-sustaining
as water, custodians of the flow. We are told
that we are therefore responsible for life and souls,
yet we are told, it is not up to us. We are told,
we nymphs, we daughters of the sea, that we must
give up our voices, our skins, to be loved by men,
either altogether or doomed only to parrot
what we are told. We are told that we must not
rock the boat, that we must not change the tides,
even when we can. We are told that we are the earth
and therefore obligated to be bountiful,
to nourish and provide, but we mustn’t allow ourselves
to be over-farmed; fear the touch of too many plows,
the degraded soil, the absence of wildflowers.
We are told that it is our duty to be
the soothing presence in the maelstrom,
to be the angel of the hearth, but we must not weep
when our fellow angels are defiled. We are told
that we bear the curse of Pandora,
for the unpardonable sin of our openings.
We are told that if something happened thirty years ago,
it doesn’t matter anymore, yet we keep paying
the price for these foremothers, six millennia gone
or more. We are told that we bear the curse
of Cassandra, consequence of rebuffing a man
in a position of power, the curse of being unable
to cal them like we see them, of not being believed
about the fall of our fair nation. We are told
that it’s all in our heads. We are told that we bear
the curse of Daphne and become prisoners
in a bark straight-jacket. We are told that we bear
the curse of Lilith, screech owl, creature of the night,
snatcher of infants that we can only hatch and nurture,
to suffer and even die nobly in the labor throes.
We are told that we bear the curse of Eve, for not doing
what we are told. Again. We are told that it is possible
to be counted as rubies, but who is it that holds
the scale and who is it that possesses the appraising eye
and who is it that sets the price? Is it any wonder
we cling to our moon and our familiars,
who remind us of the celestial radiance
supposedly intrinsic to our kind, the bestial
self-preservation that keeps us clawing our way onward?

Lauren Scharhag
Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. Her poems and short stories have appeared in over eighty journals and anthologies. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, click here. “My identity as a woman is very important to me. My mother is a first-generation American, a feminist, and an engineer. I was mostly raised by her and her mother and grandmother so I have a strong sense of female empowerment and sisterhood.” 

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