Ecce Feminina

by Eleanor Ondeck

Behold the woman, god on earth, creator of life
Her sunray smile a thousand bulbs brighter
Cheeks red and hot with the burst of new summer
She is dancing because there are sprouts and that has always been enough

I have asked my mother to tell me the story of fullness
To grow life inside her and bear the weight of the future
There is only so much stretch a stomach can handle
Before it needs to spring clean and birth a flower

Women’s feet are always dirty because we are busy planting the seeds of courage
Learning how to hold each others’ key-fist hands at nighttime
Walking barefoot with glass ceiling shards underneath us
We are only little girls when we start to carry fear in our backpacks

Blossoms are withering in the masculine heat, their fruit not ripe for picking
We are being plucked from the vine by men who like our bitter taste
They spit out our sun bloom innocence like flower seeds
Little girls’ futures strewn across cracked soil and covered by the winds of time

It is always women digging through the earth, aching to recover their shriveled children
Their sisters hidden underneath miles of dirt dunes, violent slants of dust and shame
It is always women clawing to break through to the surface
Wondering just how the soil from which they came could become such an infertile place for girls

I am survival, a thousand times over; woman, a thousand times over
I am alive, a thousand times over; sister, a thousand times over
And I will shove through the soil until my hands are dripping in past lives
The women that should have been bursting alive lying silent in my palms

If I am not at home and you cannot find me,
Do not look for me indoors.
Follow the trail of soil and sun stains;
I am out gardening. 

Michele Dale