(AWC-SB Women of Achievement Awards, 2013)
for Marsha Bailey and Kathleen Sharp
If you want to make a difference in life, go for the gold
or awards, you probably won’t make it past the front porch.
Too many leaves need sweeping after near hurricane winds,
so you take up ballet, like Kathleen, begin to bend your
body in extraordinary ways, arabesque like a doe, land
like a swan and glide in the rippled lake of your making.
Tap dancing shoes not allowed, like Marsha you choose
swimming, built strong as a plow like her ancestors, and
noted how her father’s pine seedlings grew lofty, in time.
One minute you’re stretching past clouds, the next
digging roots into earth where water seeps with the truth.
When insulted for being a woman, told your job is to type
and file and you’re out to change your fate, you take matters
into your own hands—as artist, weave threads from here
and there into passion for equality like any suffragette:
so doing, forge a path for women to follow. Or you spin
stories as that dancer, dazzle with verbal seduction,
influence others to do what is right, bring to light
that blood money is wrong—it kills—and heard,
turn greed on its ear. Along comes the wind again
singing there, there like me you can run with any animal,
wolf or mouse and one afternoon find yourself
dressed up in a dream you never dreamed, before the sea,
the forest that didn’t burn, the history of womankind
applauding you for leading the pack, Marsha and
Kathleen, for having our backs, for showing whatever path
we choose or how we move, it makes all the difference.
by Perie Longo
Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emerita
June 5, 2013