Poets Walk: "too fierce"

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

and separated

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.