7 Poems For The Woman Who Has Forgotten Her Brilliance

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Jessica Bristow

I am a woman
so I must flit
the line between
delicate and
empowered
like a flower turned
to the sun but plucked
from the earth I am
supposed to be beautiful
but dependent
strong but needy.
I am supposed to be the stem
severed from its roots
to be placed
in a vase that brightens
your room and yes I am
beautiful but I am more
than just a decoration
dancing its petals
in the wind. I am bones
and flesh and hair and eyes
that shine. I stand on
my own two feet in the ground
where I was found. Where I
was planted. I am
not meant to be pulled
poked prodded placed
where you see fit.
Women are told
to be courageous but careful
knowing but needy, aware
but always awaiting
someone’s love, someone’s hand
pulling us from the earth but
I don’t want to be the kind of
woman who waits
Who relies
who wills her wishes away
to be a pretty bud in a windowsill.
I am a woman
but I will not flit between
delicate and empowered.
I will not grace the vase
on your bedside table.
You will find me roots and stem
shining towards my own sun
grounded
independent
strong.


You are a wild and beautiful thing.
You must always remember
the difference between being loved
and tamed.


I want to know what you see
when you look at me.
Is it brown eyes, searching
your face? Is it a smile, pulling
you closer? Is it arms and legs,
muscles and curves?
Do you feel threatened
by the way I walk
with my head straight, gazed fixed
and unwavering?
When you look at me,
do you see mascara on my eyelashes?
Blush on my cheeks? Running shoes on my feet?
When you look at me,
do you see fingers with silver rings,
manicured and delicate?
Do you see callouses from work,
a smudge of dirt on my knee, scuffed
soles from the places I’ve wandered?

Because when you look at me,
I want you to see fierceness and grace.
I want you to see hands, worn
from both labor and love.
I want you to see legs, strong
from the paths I’ve walked
and the burdens I’ve carried.
I want you to see a heart
big and beating
and shining boldly through my smile.
When you look at me,
I don’t want you to just see
girl, woman, female, pretty.
I don’t want you to just see
curves, muscles, short, strong.
I don’t want you to just see
chest, back, lashes, legs.
I want you to see where I’ve come from
and who I’ve become,
the laughter from my lips
and the faraway look in my eyes
when I start to remember what I’ve lost.
I want you to feel the warmth of my skin,
touch my body with your fingertips.
I want you to know I’m not just a woman,
a human, a body. But a force,
an energy, a soul.
I want you to know
we are so different,
so complex,
so disconnected.

But I want you to look at me
and see we are the same.


A strong woman is a feared woman.
I hope your knees shake
when you see me.


If a woman is a plant
then tear that cactus out of the sand.
I want to be something beautiful,
but sassy. Something with roots.
I am more than just a pretty face
so maybe something like a rose. Seductive
velvet petals. That earthy smell. But thorns
where you’d least expect them.
Or maybe a sunflower. Something big. Bold. Yellow.
Thick stem not thick skull. I could stand tall
anywhere I wander. I could tell those farmer boys
they’re wrong. I am pretty. I am strong.
On second thought, I’ll be that damn cactus.
Carry my weight and water with me. Keep
what I’ve learned inside. Keep it under strong skin.
I won’t worry about being pretty. I’ll show those spikes
like scars of where I’ve been. And I’ll grow a flower.
If I want to. Grow where I’m least expected. Grow
where the sand burns and naked soles are too scared to wander.
There, I’ll grow.


I am a woman. I am soft. I hold my heart out in my palm and let others touch the warm surface. I listen with my eyes closed and let stories wash over my skin like rain. I speak my emotions to life, let them run wild like horses through an open field. I do not fear or hold back.

I am soft. I’ve learned to love like I am malleable because love does not stay still and stiff. I try to be gentle and kind, fill my heart with the spirit of patience. I trust because I don’t know how not to. I care because to feign indifference makes my chest ache.

I do not know how to love with less, how to be cold and distant, how to hold others at arm’s length. I am a woman with a big heart – I am soft and not afraid to love.

But I am also strong.

My body is fluid, dancing to the rhythm of the songs on the radio, humming in the light of the sun. My laughter flirts with the wind; my voice gets lost in the clouds.

My heart is powerful, a deep beat quickening with every measured step, pumping faster as I pursue all that I believe in and care for.
I love wildly, but not naively. I care passionately, but always purposely. I am soft, but also strong.


Sweet girl, you are more than a woman.
You are legs, voices, attitudes of those who came before you
and of the babies you will one day bear.
You are grandmother’s smile and aunty’s homemade dumpling soup.
You are the pearls in the jewelry box and the gym shoes by the door.
You are a mind that stubborn and a laugh that’s contagious,
your mother’s calloused hands and the shyness of your sister.
You are the complexions and statures the smooth
the round the skinny the lanky. You are
every color, a piece of each woman you’ve ever known
or spoken to or been inspired by or loved. You carry
each of them with you. You are them all. You are the voice
that speaks, the ear that listens. Men will call and cat-call
and whistle and wait. You can open your mind or your legs
and especially our own doors. If you want to. You are hands
that file papers, that drive cars, that deliver babies,
that put food on the table. You are strong and big
and too strong and too much and sexy and beautiful
and gentle and wild. You are like flowers, like fruit,
like drugs, like dreams. Seductive. Terrifying.
You are lines of poetry, words not yet spoken, histories
and stories and recipes written on crinkled paper.
You are breasts, eyes, fingers, toes, mouths.
You are more than just a woman. You are a world. TC mark

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