Revolution: the Photo and the Poem

First, I have to admit that I have no recollection of who wrote this poem. I found it over the New Year’s holiday while rummaging through a stack of old papers. It is, however, written about a large photograph that hung in my Women’s Studies office at the University of Akron and then again on the wall of my Criminal Justice office at Eastern Kentucky University. The portrait was part of an exhibition that we brought to the university for a Women’s History Month celebration of women artists sometime in the late 1980s. When I retired from academia in 2010, I gifted the photo to my former student assistant who had been my right hand, indeed my logistics coordinator, in the heady days of Women’s Studies. It now hangs in her living room. That is where it belongs.

She hangs by a nail in Carole’s office.

She is sitting on her haunches in a mud hut,

A thin hand holding up her head.

Her eyes are bright,

As though they see angels.

Her skin is the color of the earth

And the lines on her face

Are as complex as those on a leaf.

On her bony head she wears a head band.


How it got there, I don’t know,

But she wears it as naturally

As any queen ever wore a tiara.

On mornings when it seems meaningless to

Get out of bed.

On days when the world is a pair of dirty socks

I don’t want to get into,

She is my reason for continuing to breathe.

In my dreams, I see a revolution

Led by toothless grandmothers

From Peru and India and Poland,

Ringing in a new day, with their

Battered pots and pans.

I can hear them cackling with laughter

In between the cracks of rifles,

These good-natured generals

Who have left their kitchens and fields

To come save their children.

In my dreams, I see this

Glass planet snuggled safe in a pair

Of wizened brown hands,

Hands that once rocked cradles

And now rock the world, hands

That sprout tree saplings that cool

The feverish air, cover the ragged mountains

And coax this hurt and betrayed earth

Back into dancing.

For me, the most confounding part of not knowing the author is the dedication: For Carole, who dreams the same dreams. Boy, I wish I could remember who took the photo and, more personally, who wrote the poem.

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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