Encounter: Alicia Suskin Ostriker

An excerpt from “Propaganda Poem: Maybe for Some Young Mamas” by Alicia Suskin Ostriker from the Mother/Child Papers:

I am telling you and you can take me for a fool there is no
good time like the good time a whole mama
has with a whole little baby and that’s
where the first images
of deity came from—sister you know it’s true
you know in secret how they
cut us down

because who can bear the joy that hurts nobody
the dazzling circuit of contact without dominance
that by the way might make you less vulnerable
to cancer and who knows what other diseases
of the body
because who can bear a thing that makes you happy
and rolls the world a little way

on forward
toward its destiny

because a woman is acceptable if she is
acceptable if she is a victim
acceptable also if she is an angry victim (“shrew,”“witch”)
a woman’s sorrow is acceptable
a deodorized sanitized sterilized antiperspirant
grinning efficient woman is certainly acceptable

but who can tolerate the power of a woman
close to a child, riding our tides
into the sand dunes of the public spaces.

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