Posted by: Erin Longbottom | 16th Nov, 2009

My Contribution to the Whitman Legacy

Around the middle of the semester I was inspired to write this poem. I was in a very “Suck it Walt!” mood.

*Title stolen  from inspired by Dr. Scanlon


My Womanly Whitman


You say you speak for the masses,

that your words bodies for our bright souls

but my body is crude at your hands, unskilled

in curves and perfection.


You say you contain multitudes, but you can barely envision me.

You did not know, but I have contained multitudes as well.

I was there in your masculine rough hewn hills, rolling

mountain lines, painted into red sand deserts and sculpted

into warm stucco walls, in damp depths of canyons

that descend beyond the limit of your thoughts.

And yet, I have seen you only in broken mausoleums,

carved in granite and steel, rotted in petrified logs

invaded by time.


You think you have built this America without

me, and invited me back to admire your craftsmanship

and sew its garments, but I am not a visitor,

or a servant, or a nurse who longs to be buried with her soldiers.

I am not born out of your cracked skull, made whole only

when you exalt the beauty of my sons.


You, who do not believe in the god stuff, should have known

that I came before you.

But you, slouching, cocked brim, good grey wise uncle Walt,

I can’t revere you, I

can’t believe you, you

who have never known me under your fingers in the night, you

who have only known me through idle conversations

with your married projected lovers.


Erin– Now I need to see you perform it! Thanks so much– this was well worth waiting for.

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