On the Eve of The Gulf War

I didn’t have a sister then
and wondered
did I not understand why
women will call each other ‘sister’
as men say ‘comrade’.

Then my first child
smiled up at me,
her lips curling around my breast
and suddenly all my sisters
from centuries past
and those to come
rose up beside me crying.

Nothing has changed- nothing
You are one with us
We know the meaning
of why we are, and will be.

And my sisters around the world
cry out
Leave us alone
to tend our child, our baby,
Let our daughter play
and grow to nurse her own.

But we cry to men,
not the good men who watch
and listen and feel,
but to those who set themselves apart
from the reality of existence.

We cry
We are life, You are life, you are our sons
and they hear with their ears only,
not with their hearts.

For Man’s world has changed
the owner of chemicals or bombs
has no fellow feeling
with the possessor of flint spears
no feeling of continuity
no need to feel those brothers
smiling at them back up the years.

As my sisters may do.

©Madeline A Stringer                                         July 2021


(first written 16th January 1991, the day before my daughter’s 11th birthday and the start of the first Gulf War)


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