Women's Work

Thursday, January 9, 2020

 I am barefoot in the kitchen

doing women's work
when my daughter looks up
from her kindergarten homework
and asks,
purple crayon resting in hand,

"Is it better to be fancy
or to be strong?"
Fancy is another word for 
pretty, or
beautiful.

I ask her if she'd rather sit on a couch in a dress
or perform a dance and headstands
when guests come to visit.

"Handstands," she answers,
her smile showing all her teeth
except the two she lost last month.
Her purple crayon returns 
to her bright yellow homework page
to circle sight words.

I want to grab her face in my hands,
feel the softness of her full cheeks in my palms,
pull her close to me and plead
that she remember beauty fades,
to always choose strength over
a sequin dress and stilettos.

She slams her crayon on the table.
"Done!" she shouts,
 slips from the bench to the floor,
crawls under the table,
and runs to the living room. 
She stops suddenly, 
raises her hands high, fingers spread wide,
and dives into a upside down balance,
all her weight momentarily held on two strong arms.
Her baby blue dress - always bowing to gravity's rule - 
folds in half, exposing her legs and stomach.

Maybe this is
women's work 
after all: a balance 
instead of a choice between
beauty and strength
disruption and peace
liberation and protection
nature and nurture.

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