Column: Ann Menebroker
— for Ann Menebroker
Do not refer to me as "poetess" —
I earned the right of leaving off
that ghost-burdened appellation;
I am a poet, damn it —
my haunted eyes and ink-stained fingers
my proof, my badge of honor —
I am not some silly, frilly maiden from Victorian days
"who knew her place", who dared not leave its cumbersome chambers,
loose its sharp-edged, barbed chains and venture forth
into the wilderness, unchaperoned.
I walked into those smoke-filled dens
filled with surly men unafraid, but not boisterous.
I had confidence without need or desire to cause a scene.
They accepted my presence, for the most part;
those who voiced disapproval were swiftly hushed
by others who tipped their hats, a courtly gesture by those
who had seen displays of my quiet. unearthly prowess and power,
who had felt the burn of lava as it roiled down mountainsides, carving creations —
covering the very spot where Sisyphus spent monotonous centuries,
straining to lift a single rock, over and over again.
I am not yet Legend, perhaps, but well on my way
to the secretive, hallowed halls gilded with portraits
of sacred giants whose names are only whispered
partly in admiration, partly in fear.