May Sarton

(1912-1995 / Belgium)

When a Woman Feels Alone


‘When a woman feels alone, when the room
is full of daemons,” the Nootka tribe
Tells us, ‘The Old Woman will be there.”
She has come to me over three thousand miles
And what does she have to tell me, troubled
“by phantoms in the night”?
Is she really here?
What is the saving word from so deep in the past.
From as deep as the ancient root of the redwood,
From as deep as the primal bed of the ocean,
From as deep as a woman’s heart sprung open
Again through a hard birth or a hard death?
Here under the shock of love, I am open
To you, Primal spirit, one with rock and wave,
One with survivors of flood and fire,
Who have rebuilt their homes a million times,
Who have lost their children and borne them again.
The words I hear are strength, laughter, endurance.
Old Woman I meet you deep inside myself.
There in the rootbed of fertility,
World without end, as the legend tells it.
Under the words you are my silence.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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