Gordon Smedt © 2019

Gordon Smedt © 2019


by Gail Thomas

Cento for women who are not


When we are silent we are still afraid,
grown women, well traveled in our time.   
These hips have never been enslaved.          
Name them, name them all, light of our own time,    
high over these robed men who curse me                 
and the ground spinning beneath us.                        
Now we are a voice in any wind,                            
a succession of brief, amazing movements,              
the fragile cases we are poured into,                       
this woman’s garment.
I have divested myself of despair.    
It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.                   
Like amnesiacs in a ward on fire,    
we must find words or burn.
I have burned often and my bones are soup.            
Fire changes everything it touches.


Gail Thomas’ published books are Odd Mercy, Waving Back, No Simple Wilderness, and Finding the Bear. Her poems have appeared in many journals, and she was awarded the Charlotte Mew Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s Must Read, and the Naugatuck River Review’s Narrative Poetry Prize.

(Lines from Audre Lorde, Olga Broumas, Lucille Clifton, Muriel Rukeyser, Almitra David, Joy Harjo, Judy Grahn, Adrienne Rich, Ellen Bass, Ellen Bryant Voight, Brigit Pageen Kelly, Diane di Prima, Jane Kenyon).