Let’s Not Label and Deny


            I finish reading the poem.
Well, he says, quick as a flash.
You don’t think much of men, do you?

            It reminds me of 1970s
Spare Rib
                 chimes in another.

Everything is different now,
          a woman rushes to protest.

Things have changed.
         Men have improved,
                      a voice intones.

My son-in-law has always
helped with the kids and house,
          a woman declares.

The chorus subsides.

I draw breath.


This is not about me.
It’s not personal.
It’s not sexual.

It’s what I know
is still going on.

The group is silent.

Women tell me their stories.
I watch their lives.
Read their struggles.
Count their defeats.

I listen to their confessions.
Hear their shame. Suffer
their unworthiness.

Then fingers crossed,
breath abated, I await
their anger: fuelling exit
and survival.

Delayed departure.
A kind of reprieve.

The prospect of lift-off.

val walsh / 2006