Kathryn Hinds

The Mermaids Respond

Us sing to you? We won't sing, no, though not
because you wear your trousers rolled and part
your hair behind. But that you've not the heart
to bite into a piece of fruit—a lot
could be made out of that: We might deride
your cowardice, your lack of faith. We might
decide that what you really need, to spite
your qualms could be a bit of bona fide
temptation. It could be amusing to
see your reaction if we sang a song
invoking all for which you truly long….
But no, Prufrock, we will not sing for you.
It's nothing personal; in truth, it's just
our song is for no man—it is for us.

The Pond

Long years ago I came here seeking peace—
a restful solitude, a quiet place
where I could watch the swans a little space
in hope their beauty would provide surcease
from loneliness and care. A masterpiece
of form and line, the swan, its fluid pace
unhurried and its easy, gliding grace
a troubled spirit's balm, sorrow's release—
so I believed, until I strayed too close
to where the swan was nesting. Up she rose
and charged with lengthened neck and wings stretched out,
a monstrous thing. That day I had no doubt
of the ferocity of grace and saw
into the wild and awful heart of awe.

Do Not Assume

Do not assume an animal is male—
with many species you can't know for sure
until you see what lies under the tail.

Old preconceptions easily prevail
when labeling old grave goods his or hers,
but don't assume that skeleton is male.

Regarding unnamed poets who've regaled
us with their ancient songs, please don't refer
to them as men unless you know their tale.

Unknown inventors of such things as ale
and wine, music and art, agriculture—
Do not assume those clever folks were male.

Try to be mindful, though sometimes you'll fail:
it's easy for assumptions to endure
unless you pay attention to details.

Of all the great unfairnesses that ail
our species, here's a place to start a cure:
please don't default humanity to male;
we've lived too long with all that that entails.


Kathryn Hinds's poems have appeared in Measure, The Lyric, Goblin Fruit, 14 by 14, Canary, Violet Windows, and other journals. Her book publications include a feminist fantasy novel, The Healer's Choice (which was a finalist for the Georgia Author of the Year Award); a poetry collection, Candle, Thread, and Flute; a co-authored book of photographs and short stories, The Forty; and numerous nonfiction titles for middle grades and young adults. She teaches composition and world literature at the University of North Georgia. www.kathrynhinds.com.


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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Etel Adnan by Joyce Wilson.

Save the date: A Celebration of the Timeline reaching 75 essays. Lincoln Center, Fordham University (Sponsored by Fordham's Curran Center) Friday, October 20th, 7 p.m.

Sacred Sisters is a collaboration between visual artist Holly Trostle Brigham and award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson, touching on such issues as gender and creativity, connections between the visual and literary arts, and religion and history. Brigham met Nelson at the all-girls prep school, the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in the Fall of 2012. Nelson was visiting the school as part of the Baldwin Write Now program and Brigham was a parent who co-founded the program and was her liaison for the day. They had the opportunity to visit and when Nelson asked about Brigham's work it started a conversation about nuns who were artists and writers. Brigham had already completed three paintings in her Seven Sisters II Series, later renamed Sacred Sisters.

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