IF WOMEN COULD SPEAK, WHAT LANGUAGE WOULD THEY CHOOSE
If I could speak, Lady, my first words are for you.
My first words are of first things which are yours.
To You, Lady, the leaves in the warm wood,
The heavy summer leaves against the sky,
Stirring in a slight wind, shaking sundrops on my body,
Giving haven to the white butterfly,
My next will be to you, who met me there,
Who, passing through the spiral, comes each turn and meets me there.
To you, my love, who are, if you are there,
Who are you, my love, who is there, are you there,
Are you my love, you there, are you still there,
Where are you, my love; my love, you are not there.
Who are you then, lying fallen there
Trampled and buried, burned and tortured there,
And each turn of the spiral murdered there,
Who, humped under the chalk, remembers there,
The axe, the stake, the spike, the wire, the snare,
The pestilence of men you suckled there.
Within your sky, your leaves, your sand
They pick the gun up in their hand
And bomb and flash and knife and roar
And laugh and scream beneath your sun
And lizards run and lizards run
The old snakes writhe but no-one sees
They rape and pound with filthy joy.
Let the stones speak who guard the dead.
The dead here rest within your care.
The stones look at the screaming wind:
"The men are there, the men are there".
Lady, if I could speak, what language could I choose?
From beneath the harrow and the stone
Below the everlasting heel
Lady, to You, I speak, but wait to hear your voice;
Along the warm soft earth, the twittering chaff,
Beside the cricket, and the burrowing ant,
With the cut corn stalks shaking in their laughter,
And a fierce dark moon rising.
If you would speak, what language would You choose?
Black Demeter is neighing like a horse.
Persephone offers jonquils for the dead.
A scream of Morrigan, Annis waits for blood.
Tiamat's severed body calls her son
Who laughs away and cuts again for fun.
What language will I choose?
I give the sun
The warmth the blessing of the daily turn
I hold the moon in place.
Your words are yours, your language is your own
Your throat speaks what your heart says, knife or not,
But knives strike when you speak, the choice is yours.
I speak now Lady, at last, to bring you praise
My voice from now shall be for you, my language Yours.
And over-run, I'll breathe the earth's moist air
And move the sun with you. And, buried there,
My ridged body will speak into the air.
And who shall hear and who shall hear
And who shall hear
If you go walking in a wood in winter,
And speak to the stones, half buried in the snow
Watch twirling leaves and dry sticks floating
Tread into muddy bracken, see still branches,
Thin skeletons of bodies yet to flourish,
If you go walking in a winter forest
Hear me, sisters, hear me speak again
If you go walking in your silence
Stretching your skin to the cold air
Stomaching your silence, your acquiescence, your solicitude,
Bearing your guilt, the guilt of too little patience,
Your guilt of the wish to speak,
Of the wish for a tear of loving,
A tear of communion you know can never happen
If you go walking, sister, in a wood in winter
Stumbling into mud, knee-high,
Vision a bird scuttling, then flying,
Winging on to a low horizon;
As I shall speak, my words are meant for you.
For you sister, weeping in the long grass,
For you sister, lying on a hard bed
For you, sister, whispering, hoping, playing, praying,
Whimpering, imploring, shrilly crying
Burning with a hard guilt,
Silent and screaming out your silence.
Who are you, dear sister, image,
Dressed and undressed, to play, to pay, to be made nothing of,
To be made into nothing, to become no-one
To keep silence?
Find a half-buried stone and rest there;
Stand in the stone's huge shadow and rest there;
Hide in the stone's curved form and rest there;
Hear the stones speak for me and rest there.
I was everything who went down into nothing,
They wrenched my earth and my moon, drowned me into nothing,
To be forgotten, to be annihilated from time,
To be no-one, nowhere, no person
I do not exist.
Except in the hard pain in your body,
The clench at the heart,
Head throbbing, high pitch of tears,
The bruise, the cut, the stumble, the bowed head,
Who are those women, standing there and laughing,
Those women standing there, dancing,
Those women, singing, talking, speaking, shouting,
Speaking in some language that some understand
Speaking with eyes and tongue and head and body
Who are those women, speaking out, in some language
Singing with music of flute and strings,
Walking in spirals through the stone circles,
Shouting, in my mazes?
Shall the moon see, shall the moon rise
The serpents move in unison, the snails in circle,
The goats sing
Shall the stones whistle, bound in harmony,
To be heard, to be contemplated, to be reciprocated.
Shall the slit throat he healed,
To let sound through
And the breath come noisily?
Women, defend me.
I am the dark river bearing your flowers.
I am the night where the dead live,
The luminous heart of the dark
Where glistens a whirl of day,
Your voice is my white seed of creation,
That I dropped into the garden,
Your voice is the cauldron
That brews knowledge
Your voice is the satisfied sigh of a contented child;
The volcano of ecstasy;
Your voice that speaks in language
(That all understand)
Brings me up through the thick earth to smile on my daughters.
Who are me.