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Poem: My heroines

by Marge Piercy

When I think of women heroes,
it’s not Joan of Arc or Molly Pitcher
but mothers who quietly say
to their daughters, you can.
Who stand behind attempts
to open doors long bolted shut
to teams or clubs or professions.

I think of women who dress
‘respectably’ and march and march
and march again, for the ability
to choose, for peace, for rights
their own or others. Who form
phone banks, who stuff envelopes
who do the invisible political work.

They do not get their faces on
magazine covers. They don’t get fan
mail or receive awards. But without
them, no woman or liberal man
would ever be elected, no law
would be passed or changed. We
would be stuck in sexist mud.

It’s the receptionist in the clinic,
the escorts to frightened women,
the volunteers at no kill shelters,
women sorting bottles at the dump,
women holding signs in the rain,
women who take calls of the abused,
of rape victims, night after night.

It’s the woman at her computer
or desk when the family’s asleep
writing letters, organizing friends.
Big change turns on small pushes.
Heroes and heroines climb into
history books, but it’s such women
who actually write our future.

February 17, 2010

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Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels, most recently "Sex Wars" published by Harper Collins Perennial, which also published her memoir, "Sleeping With Cats." She has 17 collections of poetry, the latest of which are "The Crooked Inheritance" (Knopf), and "Louder, We Can't Hear You Yet" (Leapfrog), a CD of her feminist and political poetry. Knopf is preparing a second volume of selected poems, tentatively titled “The Hunger Moon” (the first volume, “Circles on the Water,” includes poems to 1981.) See

Also see "The Poet's Eye" featuring poems by Heather Davis, Susan Eisenberg and Renny Golden and selected by Co-Poetry Editor Judith Arcana in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See "Film Review: Liberian Women Forge A Real-Life Lysistrata" by Jaye Austin Williams in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


Larry posted: 2014-04-05 16:57:06

I hear you. This is a tough issue. It's hard for me to believe that the father does not have a right to be there when his child is born. You make some interesting points. I do hope that though he and others can be shut out at the birth they wont lose out later on.

Jamie posted: 2014-04-30 18:22:34

Larry, please explain why this is hard to believe. The father is reported to have married another woman, while this one was pregnant. What makes this so tough for you? Not trying to be snarky, do want to understand.

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