In honor of International Women’s Day today, I’d like to share this poem that we will be reading to open our Red Tent Circle this week. I first used it as a group reading in a Rise Up and Call Her Name class, but I first read the poem in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee curriculum, Gender Justice, Women’s Rights are Human Rights. It is by Pat Mora and comes from a book she wrote called Auga Santa: Holy Water. It is a really powerful reading to do with a group of women, especially if you then couple that with action as a group (see my companion blog post today for ideas of things to do).
Let Us Hold Hands
By Pat Mora
Let us now hold hands
with the Iroquois woman who slipped berries into children’s lips
while her sisters planted stars with a wooden hoe,
with the woman who rubbed warm oil into her neighbor’s feet
when Plymouth’s winter prowled and howled outside their doors,
with the woman who sewed faith into each stitch, cloth comforters
pieced to the rhythm of español for babies born al silencio, del desierto,
with the woman who seasoned soups with pepper and hope
as her days took her further from the signs of trees she loved,
with the woman who parted her parched lips and sang
for her mother when they staggered onto these shores in chains,
with the woman who trained her stubborn tongue to wrap
around that spiny language, English, to place her child in school.
Let us now hold hands with the woman
who croons to the newborn left amid orange rinds and newspaper,
who teaches grandmothers to link letters into a word,
who whispers to the woman dying with one breast,
who holds a wife whose face is more broken than any bone,
who bathes the woman found sleeping in black snow.
Let us hold hands
with the woman who holds her sister in Bosnia, Detroit, Somalia,
Jacksonville, Guatemala, Burma, Juarez, and Cincinnati,
with the woman who confronts the glare of eyes and gunbarrels,
yet rises to protest in Yoruba, English, Polish, Spanish, Chinese,
Let us hold hands with the woman who cooks, with the woman who builds,
with the woman who cries, with the woman who laughs,
with the woman who heals, with the woman who prays,
with the woman who plants, with the woman who harvests,
with the woman who sings, with the woman whose spirits rise.
In this time that fears faith, let us hold hands.
In this time that fears the unwashed, let us hold hands.
In this time that fears age, let us hold hands.
In this time that fears touch, let us hold hands,
brown hands, trembling hands, callused hands, frail
hands, white hands, tired hands, angry hands, new
hands, cold hands, black hands, bold hands.
In town and cities and villages, mano a mano, hand in hand,
in mountains and valleys and plains,
a ring of women circling the world,
the ring strong in our joining,
around our petaled home, this earth, let us join hands.
Note: there is still space in our upcoming Red Tent Initiation training. This comprehensive training is online and open to women around the world.