Old Love Letters

5358500730_1b0b3d16f6_zShe filled an empty shoe box
with all his old love letters.
She tied it up in yellow ribbon
to hold them all together.
Sometimes when I’d visit,
she’d take them from the shelf
and one by one she’d read to me
the words of love he’d left.
Then with trembling hands,
she’d return each one to its place.
As she caressed the satin ribbon,
a smile would touch her face.
I was only a child back then,
and could not comprehend
the meaning of the phrases
or how long she had treasured them.
Recently, those old letters
fluttered across my mind.
Suddenly I wanted very much
to read them line by line.
She’d been gone for quite a while,
her belongings scattered about.
I was stunned when I discovered
they had thrown “that old box” out.
There was no room for “all that stuff—
just a bunch of musty ol’ papers.”
So, they burned them every one,
her box of his love letters.
I wish I could have saved them,
I’ve regretted it ever since.
Her name was Emma, and his was Ernest.
They were my mother’s parents.
Anita Stubbs

When God Was Still A Woman

goddessLong ago in pagan times,
When God was still a woman,
The fertile Earth was cultivated
With a reverence now uncommon.
The abundance of the Goddess Mother
Established harmonious equality.
Life increased with balanced purpose,
Oblivious to male superiority.

Suddenly a flash of light
Sparked a Semitic mind.
A thought envisioned One Manly God,
The Creator of all Mankind.
Divinity revealed masculinity’s prize,
The universal Power of God.
Adam’s myth drew a celestial breath,
Eve’s, God’s afterthought.

The Almighty God and the Earthly Kings
Saw a chance to Capitalize:
The lowly sinner could be redeemed,
If he was mercifully Christianized.
While the Puritan Ethic of honest toil
Fills the coffers of Godly Kings,
The Worker is promised a heavenly home,
If to the cross he clings.

Man knows fear as never before,
Under the hand of Almighty God.
Woman is charged with unknown sins,
As down to Hell they trod.
Once, an archaic thought formed chosen words,
Through the trickery of subtle deceit
And Humanity was eternally duped,
Enslaved by its own conceit.
Anita Stubbs, 1992

Whispers from A Grandmother

Life restricted her, bound her cruelly,
limiting her as I have never been.
She was confined to servitude by female bondage,
her body used, spread-eagled under male dominance,
her purpose, predetermined,
without choices to be pondered.
Life just prodded her along
through the mud and the blood,
though she never traveled anywhere
other than to church occasionally.
A good suffering Christian,
she spent her life on her knees,
scrubbing, praying, begging.
Praying he’d come home sober,
then begging him not to hurt her.
She whispers from the shadows,
though she’s been gone for sixty years.
Only I still hear her, taste her bitter tears.
She whispers from the shadows,
uninhibited by space or time,
empowering me to dignify
the memory of her name.
Grandmother, kind and gentle,
a woman, wise and strong,
born with all the hopes and dreams
any girl has ever known.
Although she never saw the world,
or read its finest literature,
she had the gift of healing,
of knowledge never learned.
She had courage and compassion,
and tolerance for her pain.
She did her birthing at home, mostly alone,
and kept her humor through it all.
She should have been honored,
praised, worshiped on a pedestal.
Instead, life laid its burdens upon her,
and kept her tethered to her stall.

Mother in Law/Daughter in Law: For Better, or Worse

motherinlaws_1936228cAt times, I find myself alone and in the dark, perched somewhere high out on a limb, so to speak, of the proverbial family tree. I feel like some old night bird curiously fixated upon those scurrying and hurrying about within my range of vision. In an attempt to make some kind of sense from all of life’s conjunctions intersecting my path, I ponder the complexity of family ties. Continue reading Mother in Law/Daughter in Law: For Better, or Worse

Sarah’s Secret

two wedding ringsShe sat straight up in bed, jolted from sleep. The roar had jerked her upright just as the impact shook the foundation of her small wooden house, rattling the windows. Her eyes darted instantly toward the baby’s crib. He slept, undisturbed. She clutched her knees to her breasts, watching irrationally, as the interior of her bedroom danced with the yellowish-orange light of a raging fire. Continue reading Sarah’s Secret

Forgive the Grandfathers?

Forgive the grandfathers? How?

FORGIVE GRANDFATHERSHow can we forget their injustices, their brutality, their waspish imperialism.
How can we forget their bullish discipline, their unbending superiority,
Their self-deluding dreams of Manifesto, their Godly Destiny,
Their autonomy to conquer, ravage, and destroy.

How can we forget? They’re still among us.
Their faces, stern, arrogant, their eyes impenetrable,
Their mouths programmed to speak outdated philosophies:
All things justified in the name of the Lord, for the deserving,
For those who abide by the Grandfather Laws.
They generate themselves,
Religiously Right in their moral judgments,
Inherited and biblicized.

Piously energetic, they have left their Mark indelibly.
Are leaving it still.
Upon the legal scrolls of the Just, the Mighty.
They jealously, zealously, intolerably,
Created Sovereignty for themselves.
Cleverly disguising it in the softer, flowing gowns of feminine garb,
They robed their Liberty in illusion, extending her arms to the poor, huddling masses.
Democratic Justice for All, they say.

How can we forget? They live only to be remembered through their wealth,
Their greenhouses of propaganda, their granted permissions,
Their obligatory brotherhoods, their Machiavellian fellowships.
We may forgive the grandmothers, for their allowances, their allegiances.
But, the grandfathers?
Their schemes of select fruition, their unabating views,
Their imposing solutions, their ever-grinding power machine.
Forgive them? How?
How can we not?
They protected, they provided, they produced.
They were soldiers, ready in bravery, always loyal, and strong.
They were circumstantial men following an enigmatic code of ethics,
murky and undecipherable to our equally circumstantial minds.
They believed in causes, ones they judged fair and righteous, and godly.

Independent, self-reliant,
they opposed foreign tyranny without hesitation or question.
They gave us this land, the most valuable on the planet.
They covered their losses, counted their blessings, and declared Victory.
If their faces are stern, arrogant, their eyes impenetrable still,
are they not justified?

Countless names, in countless places,
mark the headstones of fallen sons and fathers, brothers:
Falling still, honoring those ancient signatures
scratched defiantly upon the law books of this land,
page after blood splattered page.
They believed that might makes right,
that strength is the only equalizer.
Where they wrong?

So, let us remember them not for their wealth,
nor their clubhouses of discrimination, or fellowships of favoritism.
Not for their sermons, their strict disciplines, or their patronage.
Let’s remember them instead with gratitude.
Let’s honor them for their legitimacy, for their veracity.
Let’s respect their commitment to progress,
these men of mythological character.
Their deeds are the blueprints for our future.

If we can forgive the grandmothers their allowances, their illusions,
then, forgive the grandfathers we must.
For perception, after the fact,
renders an assessment based on hindsight, moot.
Judging history has nothing to do with truth.
Anita Stubbs, 1993

Forgive the Grandmothers

orig logo soap pic

Forgive the grandmothers
their docile obeisance,
their unopinionated views,
their unassertiveness,
their servile attitudes.
It was absolute authority
that made her bow her head,
a cultural thing that prohibited her,
but praised and honored him.

Forgive the grandmothers
for teaching male superiority,
for misleading us about
what feminine decency meant.
That decency was white starched shirts,
and shiny scrubbed floors–
fresh baked bread, piousness,
literacy restricted to reading scriptures.

Forgive the hovering about,
always at beckoning call,
for believing she was most attractive
when he stood proud and tall.
For countless family dinners
that served the menfolk first,
while she was judged by tasty meals,
the value of her worth.
And for steadfastly believing
her place was in the home,
while understanding that when menfolk gathered,
she was limited to certain rooms.

So, forgive her her part in enabling him to reign:
Head of the Table, Head of the House, Head of Everything.

Forgive her quietly giving birth
in a quality show of strength:
Any woman worth her salt,
decently endured pain.

Forgive her performance of duty
in keeping the children quiet,
Careful not to disturb Daddy
when he came home at night.

Forgive her mindless chatter,
her silence when it would have mattered,
for the mockery made
each time she marked her ballot.

Forgive her disdain for the sister
who resisted
by voting alone,
refusing to double his.

Forgive the grandmothers if you can,
for their clucking godliness,
for the little women robed in velvet steel
deserve our graciousness.

Forgive them, forgive them,
lift up their lowered heads.
Forgive them their delusions,
for they knew not what they did.
Anita Stubbs, 1993