Place/Position/Status by George Elliott Clarke
I dedicate this poem to my mother, Geraldine, my aunt Joan and my daughter Aurelia.
What’s a woman’s place,
If not first? How could
Thrive the human race
Without our live mould?
A woman’s place is not “behind”—
Unless she’s behind the wheel—
Directing the passage,
Navigating the way forward;
Or she’s behind the controls—
Piloting, soaring to the sun;
Or she’s behind the desk—
Instructing, managing, teaching.
A woman’s place is not “in the home”—
Unless it’s a house of finance—
Or it’s the House of Commons—
Or it’s Windsor Castle and/or Rideau Hall.
A woman’s place is not “out back”—
Unless she’s the front-line back up—
Who don’t back down—
Not until the downpressed are standing up.
Ain’t to cook and clean,
But to petition—
Inquest like a queen.
A woman’s position isn’t secondary,
But to be supreme—
Like a Supreme Court Justice,
And render decisions primary.
A woman’s position isn’t drudgery,
But to become the judge,
And to mete out Equality,
To never deem rights luxuries.
A woman’s position isn’t retro—
To go back to the kitchen,
To go back to the nursery,
To forget, to regret, to forego.
A woman’s position isn’t reversed
By the biases that History
Has had Herstory rehearse.
And what’s a woman’s status?
To be valued and “vatic”—
Gifted by afflatus—
And it’s also our status
To give chauvinists static,
To face down the fatuous;
To act up; be dramatic!
We may have Indigenous status;
We may have Landed Immigrant status;
We may have working-class status;
But our standing is always righteous.
May our status always be first—
The first to argue for rights—
For Power and a wallet-equal purse—
And know Victory’s delights.