Skip to content

Wonder Women

April 23, 2009

Sometimes I see reflections on bits of glass on sidewalks
I catch the glimmer of empty bottles floating out to sea
Sometimes I stretch my arms way above my head and wonder if
There are women along the Mekong doing the same

These are the opening lines of the poem Wonder Woman by Genny Lim. You can find the entire poem after the jump, I highly recommend it. In fact, I’d recommend reading the entire collection. But back to the poem:  it’s a poem about women. Women all around the world, doing their different things, and living their different lives. In the poem, Lim uses the imagery of their bodies to connect them to one another and to herself. She also talks about how these women’s bodies are affected by their station in life, and the inequalities that exist among people who are fundamentally similar.

Why must women stand divided?
Building the walls that tear them down?

I like that she relates social status back to the effects that it has on our bodies and demonstrates the vast seas of privilege that separate us while at the same time connecting us through the one thing that we do have in common – our bodies. I also love the double-meaning of the title. Yes, women are wonderful, but the poetic voice in this poem is also a woman who wonders, a woman who wonders about other women. Love it.

Wonder Woman
by Genny Lim

Sometimes I see reflections on bits of glass on sidewalks
I catch the glimmer of empty bottles floating out to sea
Sometimes I stretch my arms way above my head and wonder if
There are women along the Mekong doing the same

Sometimes I state longingly at women who I will never know
Generous, laughing women with wrinkled cheeks and white teeth
Dragging along chubby, rosy-cheeked babies on fat, wobbly legs
sometimes I state at Chinese grandmothers
Getting on the 30 Stockton with shipping bags
Japanese women tourists in European hats
Middle-aged mothers with laundry carts
Young wives holding hands with their husbands
lesbian women holding hands in coffee-houses
Smiling debutantes with bouquets of yellow daffodils
Silver-haired matrons with silver rhinestoned poodles
Painted prostitutes posing along MacArthur boulevard
Giddy teenage girls snapping gum in fast cars
Widows clutching bibles, crucifixes

I look at them and wonder if
They are a part of me
I look in their eyes and wonder if
They share my dreams

I wonder if the woman in mink is content
If the stockbroker’s wife is afraid of growing old
If the professor’s wife is an alcoholic
If the woman in prison is me

There are copper-tanned women in Hyannis port playing tennis
Women who eat with finger bowls
There are women in factories punching time clocks
Women tired every waking hour of the day

I wonder why there are women born with silver-spoons in their mouths
women who have never known a day of hunger
Women who have never changed their own bed linens
And I wonder why there are women who must work
Women who must clean other women’s houses
Women who must shell shrimps for pennies a day
Women who must sew other women’s clothes
Who must cook
Who must die
In childbirth
In dreams

Why must women stand divided?
Building the walls that tear them down?
Jill-of-all-trades
Lover, mother, housewife, friend, breadwinner
Heart and spade
A woman is a ritual
A house that must accommodate
A house that must endure
Generation after generation
Of wind and torment, of fire and rain
A house with echoing rooms
Closets with hidden cries
Walls with stretchmarks
Windows with eyes

Short, tall, skinny, fat
Pregnant, married, white, yellow, black, brown, red
Professional, working-class, aristocrat
Women cooking over coals in sampans
Women shining tiffany spoons in glass houses
Women stretching their arms way above the clouds
In Samarkand, in San Francisco
Along the Mekong

from This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Eds Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1983. 25-6.

Advertisements
No comments yet

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: