Poets Walk: "too fierce"
Location on Poets Walk Map: 41
Amelia Bloomer's Stride by Anne Coon
Not charming, too fierce and sober for that
but charmed if it may be said
by the shape of your own mouse-like feet
the sight of your pretty boots
but most of all, by the stride you took
your legs scissoring, knees and thighs,
left and right wrapped in separate shrouds
not webbed together but moving on their own
in ecstasy now forgotten.
First steps, freely taken,
lead of weighted skirts (ten pounds)
melted down, re-cast into type to tell of it:
costume, folly, pantaloon
always the scandalous declension
trousers, slacks, pants, jeans,
briefs, bikinis, thong.
Elizabeth wrote of the joy --
walking up dark stairs
bearing candle and baby
not fumbling with a clutch of fabric
but taking steps she could see
not simply imagine
not hidden under a tent of black wool
hem meeting earth in mud and manure.
The ponderous skirts didn’t bother them
nor the force that narrowed the waist
and squeezed the uterus
until it slid from the body.
No, it was your stride they hated
despised movement, driven by the hips,
articulated where legs joined
in places unseen
better you should hide all that
better you should glide along
legs and feet hidden by a swaying cage
suspended from your own isthmic waist.
Anne Coon, "Amelia Bloomer's Stride" from Women's Studies 35, no 1 (January 2006). Used by permission of the poet and Taylor & Francis, Inc.