For Strong Women: Marge Piercy

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.

A strong woman is a woman standing on tiptoe and lifting a barbell

while trying to sing Boris Godunov.

A strong woman is a woman at work

cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,

and while she shovels, she talks about

how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens

the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up

develops the stomach muscles, and

she goes on shoveling with tears

in her nose.


A strong woman is a woman in whose head

a voice is repeating, I told you so,

ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,

ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,

why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t

you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why

aren’t you dead?


A strong woman is a woman determined

to do something others are determined

not be done.  She is pushing up on the bottom

of a lead coffin lid.  She is trying to raise

a manhole cover with her head, she is trying

to butt her way through a steel wall.

Her head hurts.  People waiting for the hole

to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.


A strong woman is a woman bleeding

inside.  A strong woman is a woman making

herself strong every morning while her teeth

loosen and her back throbs.  Every baby,

a tooth, midwives used to say, and now

every battle a scar.  A strong woman

is a mass of scar tissue that aches

when it rains and wounds that bleed

when you bump them and memories that get up

in the night and pace in boots to and fro.


A strong woman is a woman who craves love

like oxygen or she turns blue choking.

A strong woman is a woman who loves

strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly

terrified and has strong needs.  A strong woman is strong

in words, action, in connection, in feeling;

she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf

suckling her young.  Strength is not in her, but she

enacts it as the wind fills a sail.


What comforts her is others loving

her equally for the strength and for the weakness

from which it issues, lighting from a cloud.

lightning stuns.  In rain, the clouds disperse.

Only water of connection remains,

flowing through us.  Strong is what we make

each other. Until we are all strong together,

a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

*This poem that is one of my favorites. I think all women who have faced trauma in one way or another should read this and feel comforted by her words. It really captures the essence and beauty of a strong woman.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s