Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney
rozk

I have not been writing much poetry of late

but Geoff Ryman asked me to write him a poem he could read aloud at Readercon. Write a sonnet for Joanna Russ, he said, and make a reference to Mark Twain if you can.

So I said OK and went away and did it...

FOR JOANNA RUSS

Standing at her high desk, writing, in pain,
she seems a preacher, tall, thin and austere.
Her angry work makes many things so clear
that she should not have needed to explain.

She made fools suffer. Smiling, in her head,
behind the smile, she'd put them in their graves,
and dance there. There's a silence known to slaves
whose words are never heard, whom men think bred

for silence. Yet speak loud in sighs and looks
and unread writing. She helped make us free
to speak aloud and dance. She lived to see
women whose lives grew through and past her books

choose quite precisely whom they'd love, or fuck,
and float downstream on rafts with Jim and Huck.
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