In a few hours I will be giving a workshop at Seton Cove on restoring the feminine images in scripture. We will look at how some of the wisdom sayings attributed to Jesus are actually statements made by the Jewish personification of Wisdom, Sophia. While I was working on that project, I ran across a poem on one woman’s defiance to being put in a mold. I’ve always loved the poem and thought some of you might enjoy it too.

by Jean Tepperman

They told me
I smile prettier with my mouth closed.
They said–
better cut your hair–
long, it’s all frizzy,
looks Jewish.
They hushed me in restaurants
looking around them
while the mirrors above the table
jeered infinite reflections
of a raw, square face.
They questioned me
when I sang in the street.
They stood taller at tea
smoothly explaining
my eyes on the saucers,
trying to hide the hand grenade
in my pants pocket,
or crouched behind the piano.
They mocked me with magazines
full of breasts and lace,
published in their triumph
when the doctor’s oldest son
married a nice sweet girl.
They told me tweed-suit stories
of various careers of ladies.
I woke up at night
afraid of dying.
They built screens and room dividers
to hide unsightly desire
sixteen years old
raw and hopeless
they buttoned me into dresses
covered with pink flowers.
They waited for me to finish
then continued the conversation.
I have been invisible,
weird and supernatural.
I want my black dress.
I want my hair
curling wild around me.
I want my broomstick
from the closet where I hid it.
Tonight I meet my sisters
in the graveyard.
Around midnight
if you stop at a red light
in the wet city traffic,
watch for us against the moon.
We are screaming,
we are flying,
laughing, and won’t stop.