Woman is a Root – Molly M. Ryan

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Touch does not sit in the veins of a petal,
Does not wilt when the bloom of spring
Withers away. It can’t be pruned,
It does not decompose with the dead and discarded
To become a new whole.
Woman is not a flower. A flower
Is only beautiful for the season. Groomed,
Clipped, arranged, until the water
Turns brown and the pollen turns
Sickly and it’s
Hidden amongst the garbage, ugly.
Woman is a root. What grows from her
May pass but she is there, in the dirt,
Taking hold of the earth, taking hold
Of life to say, “What may pass
Can be regrown.” Touch
Is there, in the roots.

The boy who kissed me
In the courtyard to show
How easy it was
To break me.

The man who pushed me
To the ground outside my bedroom door,
His moon eyes black and sizzling
Like an empty frying pan.

The grabbing, pawing,
Blind grasp of the hand
Of a faceless stranger
In a boozey, steaming basement.

Woman is a root, and from it
Stems the threaded rot
Of the shame of touch, unwelcomed.
But what of touch
Like raindrops, like sunlight?

The kitten’s sandpaper tongue
Against my nose and forehead.
The brushing and braiding
Of fine hairs by my mother’s tender hands.
The soft placement of bandages
Over dewy cuts and scrapes
By healing fingertips.
Perfumed bathwater bubbling
Lazily around my ankles and hips.

From this softness, I grow strength.
I grow into my beauty, into my
Power to purify the earth. Though
My shame may eat away
At the edges of petals I’ve
Worked diligently
To nurture, the raindrops
And the sunlight seep
Deeper into my roots, I
Dig deeper into
The dirt, I am
Resilient in my growth
And regrowth. I wilt
With grace knowing
That I bloom
Furiously, righteously,
Lovingly. No one, no
Unwelcomed touch
Will uproot me.

© 2019 Molly M. Ryan


Molly M. Ryan is a writer of all forms. She focuses primarily on fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and is the founder and writer of a blog called Penned by Women, where she celebrates works that were written by women throughout time. She has an MA in Literary and Cultural Studies and a dual BA in English and History.

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