I am the woman your mother warned you about
But as I am in the office, is not who
I am in the garden, is not who I
am at table with a poet or two.
In New York I’m not the same as in Iowa,
In Puerto Rico I’m not the same.
I am the woman, you were warned
that all along the island-pebbled coasts
of Florida, Louisiana, Maine,
the vibracores from the wetland hotspots
are not the same; and the mother lode is change.
The story does not stop and I have not stopped
being the woman your mother warned you about
though not all of the story gets told again
Who remembers the names of the people
who fought against women’s right to vote?
And what was the name of that boy who tried
to push your head down, like the mating drake
drowning the breeding duck?
I am that woman, the one you were warned about,
that breaks things off. Atropos, I am a woman
who once had full, dark-nippled breasts
that put out streams of milk – I had freezers-full of it
when I weaned the lamb. Now, life weans me.
Desire was one big nourishing vessel, with zigs, zags
and the sun sets earlier each day and I am the woman
your mother warned you about, the woman
who douses the flames. Give me a kiss.
while Popocatépetl ossifies, while Bezymianny
stews in Kamchatka and the rain comes in bombs.
I’m never leaving. You’ve been warned.
Judy Swann is a poet and essayist. Her work includes Fool (Kelsay Books, 2019) and Stickman (John Young, 2019). She lives in Ithaca, NY and is rewriting Boethius’s Consolation as a feminist utopia. See her other work at judith marie brugger swann.