The Common Women Poems, II. Ella, in a square apron, along Highway 80

By Judy Grahn Judy Grahn
She’s a copperheaded waitress,
tired and sharp-worded, she hides
her bad brown tooth behind a wicked
smile, and flicks her ass
out of habit, to fend off the pass
that passes for affection.
She keeps her mind the way men
keep a knife—keen to strip the game
down to her size. She has a thin spine,
swallows her eggs cold, and tells lies.
She slaps a wet rag at the truck drivers
if they should complain. She understands
the necessity for pain, turns away
the smaller tips, out of pride, and
keeps a flask under the counter. Once,
she shot a lover who misused her child.
Before she got out of jail, the courts had pounced
and given the child away. Like some isolated lake,
her flat blue eyes take care of their own stark
bottoms. Her hands are nervous, curled, ready
to scrape.
The common woman is as common
as a rattlesnake.

Judy Grahn, “The Common Women Poems: II. Ella, in a square apron, along Highway 80” from love belongs to those who do the feeling: New & Selected Poems (1966-2006). Copyright © 2008 by Judy Grahn. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

Source: love belongs to those who do the feeling: New & Selected Poems (1966-2006) (Red Hen Press, 2008)

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Poet Judy Grahn

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Class

 Judy  Grahn

Biography

Poet, activist, and scholar Judy Grahn was born in Chicago and grew up in New Mexico. She joined the Air Force but was discharged at 21 for being openly gay. A central member of the west coast feminist poetry movement of the 1970s, Grahn received a PhD from the California Institute of Integral Studies. In a 2009 essay for the Boston Review on the poetry of the women’s movement, poet Honor Moore spoke of hearing Grahn read her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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