Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ode to Women Caring for Life

Three good guys and their truck by MK Sandford
Dedicated To Allan and my other gentlemen friends. We need you; we value your participation in the work of caring for life. We need you to know that the membrane of women caring for life is in dire need of healing. Help us heal the membrane upon which all human life depends.

To my
Gentle men
Do you care for life?

You say
that you do
Tell me do you…

Have in mind
Laundry or dishes?

Meals and snacks
Breakfast lunch dinner?

Do you
do three things
At once every day?

Chop wood
Break your back
Keep the fire going?

Carry water
from the well
In fify pound jugs?

Go to
the market
Buy groceries for us?

While you
wipe a tear
And nurse the baby?

You do
all this and
Pick up toys and sox?
Floors and sinks
Dishes, dust, no rest?

Do you
Change diapers
Clean up poop and pee?

You find
Time to write
While the family sleeps?

Year after
Year is a lifetime

Care is
Doing what’s
Necessary now.

You see,
here’s the point
we do this for free.

Now tell
me how you
Really care for life?

You say
Yes I do!
I care about life.

I help
when you ask
Love and respect you

I am
Bread winner
I work for us both


I say,
I need you
To build me a home.

To be
my helpmate
can’t do it alone
On earth
families thrive
when women do care work.

The earth
we surround
forming a network

a membrane
around the world make

is needed
to keep life flowing

are dying
from hunger and pain

wars that
cause women
to suffer and die

If we
to live on this earth

We must
Heal our  souls
Bodies and spirits

We must
Women connect us

To the
Heart and soul
Of our mother the earth

We are
Born through the
Body of Woman

She is
The vessel
Through which we each pass

She feeds
Every cell                               s
Growing inside her

Our flesh
Is her flesh
Our blood is her blood

She is
Our mother
She nurtures all life.

You are
Important we
Need you to hear us

We need
You to stand
By our side because

If we
as women
Stop caring for life

Life will
dry up and
our species will die.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sylvia Woods and Angela Davis, and my connection to Civil Rights.

Check out this video of my friend and mentor Sylvia Woods. Sylvia Woods, was a leader in the labor movement. I was living in Chicago going to nursing school when I met her. In 1972 she was well into her 70s. Her pepper-gray hair, piercing eyes, and warm smile inspired me and to my great honor she became a mentor to me. With amazing love and patience she taught me about racism, and why I should care about it. Most of all she taught me that really loving means being willing to hold on to each other while you fight through your differences. That year, I joined the Medical Committee for Human Rights. One of our works aside from organizing health care workers, was serving at demonstrations as the medical support team. I was part of the team that rode the bus to Raleigh, North Carolina for a demonstration in support of the Wilmington Seven. A group of Black Ministers accused of setting fire to a White Church. Really?

Angela Davis was the keynote speaker. There were about 700 Black people and 7 white medical and nursing students, but few security. Since I was the least experienced nursing student, and well known to the organizer of the demonstration, I was asked to do security instead of medical coverage. My job at the age of 30 was to provide security for Angela Davis during her speech. It was clearly explained to me that if saw anyone with a weapon, that I was to put my body between the shooter and Angela.

The moment of  Angela's  speech arrived much to soon as I stood next to Angela at the podium, my eyes fixed on the crowd looking for a weapon. Klansmen in sheets and cones lined the streets leading up to the capital. There must have been 100 or more. I don't remember being scared I think I was just numb. What I remember most was thinking about the question, "Who are you willing to die for?"  At that moment, in my youthful idealism, I decided that there were two lives I would die to protect: Angela Davis and Sylvia Woods were the only two women on the planet whose lives I valued more than my own. They were the heroines of my youth and showed me how courage looked and sounded. It wasn't until 2005 the 25th anniversary of the Greensboro Massacre when I understood the danger I was in that day in Raleigh. But that is a story for another day.

Warning: This post contains violent images.

 Woman with Children by Kate Kollwitz
Our Hearts are Breaking 
The war on women is the longest war in human history. Make no mistake about it. In the view of the war mongers, women are dangerous, and debase when wild and free, and goddess, princess, queen, mother only when tamed and possessed by a man. 

It is a war, on all things woman, gentle boys because they are not man enough, men who give care because doing women’s work is beneath them;  gay men because no man should possess another man as tho' he were woman; gay woman because they are unavailable to the men who seek to own them, the earth, because she is woman too; and the wives, mothers, and daughters of their enemies are the spoils of war.  
Human trafficking is a consequence of the war gone global.

The war rages on while we sleep, and dream that rape and pillaging are behind us.  
Wake up from your sleep! They will tell you "Don't bother voting; the government is broken."  Vote! They will tell you,  "the American dream is yours for the taking". It isn't! They will tell you "feminism is sexist; women’s rights have been one". And lost! They will tell you "ignore the atrocities, the images will damage your brain".   Do not believe them.

Remember the women who died for your rights to be called human, to own property, to vote. Remember your mothers and grandmothers who suffered and died so that you might be born to choose to have children of your own, or not.  The war on women is a war on life itself. Tell these stories to your children so that they stay awake. Tell them, that we too have gone global; together we are changing the world one heart, one vote, one life at a time. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Of Clouds and Webs

“Responsible caretaking is a central value of life.” Margaret Mead

Bustling Marketplace, Delhi © wili_hybrid
Well, here we are, women of great heart, taking up her challenge. Here we are making friends, sharing stories; cooperating is our natural way.  We work close to home and to our children. We create alliances with those we see every day. We heal wounds. We make common cause in our daily lives and learn from each other. We are all sisters in an immense learning community of women.

Each morning, we meet. We greet, face to face, on the street as we walk our infants in strollers, at the market, or the well.  And now through the miracle of webs and clouds, we cross the miles, the oceans; the vast spaces evaporate like the dew in the morning sun. We are heart to heart, playing and working side by side, I in my village in the north; you in your village in the south, or west, or east. We carry in our hands our magic boxes linking our knowing in ways we might never have imagined.

I have always known you were there but you seemed so far away. I imagined that you knew not that I cared whether you had clean water, or a chicken to lay eggs, or gruel for your children. But I do care, only I never imagined that I could let you know.
We are 3.5 billion strong and we are mending our nets, we are mending the fabric of soil beneath our feet. Can we share as women have always shared, a cup of sugar, an extra blanket, a prayer, a song across the miles? Can we, like the pulses of energy coursing through our bodies heal each other as we heal our families?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Care in six dekaaz*

Miles Joe Cocker Waits for His Oatmeal by MK Sandford.

Care is
my little Miles
waiting at my feet

for the
empty bowl
of luscious oatmeal.

I put
down the bowl.
My mind is elsewhere.

He waits.
Then sings his
Disappointment Song.

I hold
the bowl while
he licks happily.

Need known;
heart responds.
Resource found, simple.
 *a dekaaz is a form in ten syllables: two in the first line, three in the second, and five in the third. I learned this form from my friend, Rachael Bagby.