Lynn Hoggard: “I Think I Know”

Elegant and elderly, the woman stood in church,
uttered bilious words about the organist’s
loud music, then stomped off during the Postlude.
We stared at her, then turned to one another,
our mouths half-open, jolted and amazed
to hear such profane language from a woman
we had thought polite, soft-spoken, kind.

Was she slipping into dementia,
or was she in the middle of some trauma?
We whispered to each other, had no clue.
Now, though, I think I know the answer—
not from her, but from my own condition,
now that the five-clawed, sharp-toothed shrew
in me springs, shrieking, from her nest.

Old women often seem ill-tempered,
I noticed in my youth—a trick
that nature plays when the hormones go.
Old men soften; old women harden.
Older now, I see another view:
Late in life, some women have to take
the reins of power fully in their hands.

Unacknowledged alphas, they had served,
their husbands, families, and friends,
always smiling, acquiescing. It almost
broke their hearts, not to show the strength
they felt. They buckled, memorized their script,
recited it throughout their lives, until
one day—alone—they learned they too were gods.

No one to answer to, such women drink
a potent brew of anger stirred by power.
Untempered in the ways that soften pride,
they throw their might around, refuse to hush—
then one of them stands up in church to say,
How the hell are we supposed to pray
when that crazy jackass feels the need to bray?

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