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Poem: "Letter to My Sister"

     It is dangerous for a woman to defy the gods;
     To taunt them with the tongue’s thin tip,
     Or strut in the weakness of mere humanity,
     Or draw a line daring them to cross;
     The gods who own the searing lightning,
     The drowning waters, the tormenting fears,
     The anger of red sins...
     Oh, but worse still if you mince along timidly—
     Dodge this way or that, or kneel, or pray,
     Or be kind, or sweat agony drops,
     Or lay your quick body over your feeble young,
     If you have beauty or plainness, if celibate,
     Or vowed—the gods are Juggernaut,
     Passing over each of us...
          Or this you may do:
     Lock your heart, then quietly,
     And, lest they peer within,
     Light no lamp when dark comes down.
     Raise no shade for sun,
     Breathless must your breath come thru,
     If you’d die and dare deny
     The gods their godlike fun!


Source: Anne Spencer, Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry, 1950-1999 2000.

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