The poem comes to the man who is ready for her,
that famous poet said, the man who waits,
vessel, temple, emptied, open as dawn.
But how does a poem come to a woman? The woman
who waits for a poem is scrubbing a floor, packing
lunches, vacuuming the study of the man who waits
for a poem. She is waiting for a poem wrapped
in an old bathrobe, listening to her child cough
in his sleep, waiting to see if he’s well enough
for school, or if her day of waiting will be spent
playing parcheesi, wiping up spills, reading
about samurai. In the bluish dawn, gazing
into the silver kalanchoe hanging at the window,
she notices a cluster of drooping leaves--
does it need water, food, is the light too strong
for it? The woman who waits for a poem lives
in a world calling her every instant: Keep me alive!
Let her wake empty as a shell, blank as a coin
rubbed over and over by the days, each dawn
that world fills her, each dawn, etches her.
From Ars Poetica Feminae