Words From Women, March 15

This poem — and please, let’s remember that it’s a poem and not a statement of doctrine, a manifesto on femininity or feminism, or a declaration of dichotomous ontology designed to upset the reader — was found in the caverns of Nag Hammadi in 1945 (think the Dead Sea Scrolls). Scholars believe the author was a woman writing as a Gnostic; I’m not a Gnostic, but I see in this a beautiful lament of the paradox of living as “woman.”

I am the whore and the holy one,
I am the wife and the virgin,
I am the mother and the daughter
I am the members of my mother
I am the barren one and many are her sons
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband
I am the midwife and she does not bear
I am the solace of my labor pains
I am the bride and the bridegroom . . .
Why, you who hate me, do you love me, and hate those who love me?
You who deny me, confess me,
and you who confess me, deny me
You who tell the truth about me, lie about me,
and you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me

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