Woman is a Root-Molly M. Ryan

Touch does not sit in the veins of a petal,

Does not wilt when the bloom of spring

Withers away. It can’t be pruned,

It does not decompose with the dead and discarded

To become a new whole.

Woman is not a flower. A flower

Is only beautiful for the season. Groomed,

Clipped, arranged, until the water

Turns brown and the pollen turns

Sickly and it’s

Hidden amongst the garbage, ugly.

Woman is a root. What grows from her

May pass but she is there, in the dirt,

Taking hold of the earth, taking hold

Of life to say, “What may pass

Can be regrown.” Touch

Is there, in the roots.


The boy who kissed me

In the courtyard to show

How easy it was

To break me.


The man who pushed me

To the ground outside my bedroom door,

His moon eyes black and sizzling

Like an empty frying pan.


The grabbing, pawing,

Blind grasp of the hand

Of a faceless stranger

In a boozey, steaming basement.


Woman is a root, and from it

Stems the threaded rot

Of the shame of touch, unwelcomed.

But what of touch

Like raindrops, like sunlight?


The kitten’s sandpaper tongue

Against my nose and forehead.

The brushing and braiding

Of fine hairs by my mother’s tender hands.

The soft placement of bandages

Over dewy cuts and scrapes

By healing fingertips.

Perfumed bathwater bubbling

Lazily around my ankles and hips.


From this softness, I grow strength.

I grow into my beauty, into my

Power to purify the earth. Though

My shame may eat away

At the edges of petals I’ve

Worked diligently

To nurture, the raindrops

And the sunlight seep

Deeper into my roots, I

Dig deeper into

The dirt, I am

Resilient in my growth

And regrowth. I wilt

With grace knowing

That I bloom

Furiously, righteously,

Lovingly. No one, no

Unwelcomed touch

Will uproot me.


© 2019 Molly M. Ryan

Molly M. Ryan is a writer of all forms. She focuses primarily on fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and is the founder and writer of a blog called Penned by Women, where she celebrates works that were written by women throughout time. She has an MA in Literary and Cultural Studies and a dual BA in English and History.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. bobcabkings says:

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    At Heretics, Lovers, And Madmen, Molly M. Ryan will not be uprooted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mmryan says:

    Thank you for sharing my work!<3 And thanks to everyone who is reading it!


  3. mmryan says:

    Reblogged this on Penned by Women and commented:
    A poem of mine is published over on hereticslovers.madmen.com if you’d like to take a gander! Give them a follow if you want to see more up and coming writers tackle poetry!


  4. Great, beautiful poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Brave & Reckless and commented:

    Molly M. Ryan slaying it on Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This blew me away Molly! So damn powerful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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