after Philip Levine

It’s wonderful how they jog
in two-toned gel soled racing shoes
their yoga butts barely jiggling
in rosy spandex leggings.

I was there once. I felt
the brash I’ve got it all, I had
the uncomplicated beauty of the young
before the years peeled it from me

like flimsy wallpaper. In my memories
women’s work was pin money
to pay for ballet lessons, summer camp;
suffering children, suffering filing jobs

suffering their husbands
who poured from the commuter train
gin-flushed and slurring. You who
I raised on Our Bodies, Our Selves

believe that feminism’s as passé
as the sanitary napkin and the typewriter.
You roll your eyes and smirk
at my pleas not to become housewives.

I’ve seen that beast
hook its teeth on the cleverest PhD
and take her down for decades.
That won’t happen to us,

you say, we’ve come too far.
We’re protected under the law
a majority, a force.
No. Not that big.

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LESLIE McGRATH is the author of three full-length poetry collections, Feminists Are Passing from Our Lives (Word Works, 2018), Out from the Pleiades (Jaded Ibis, 2014) and Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage (Main St Rag, 2009), and two chapbooks. Winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Gretchen Warren Prize from the New England Poetry Club, she has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as funding from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation. McGrath’s poems and literary interviews have been published widely, including in Agni, Poetry magazine, The Academy of American Poets, The Writer’s Chronicle, and The Yale Review. McGrath originally trained in clinical psychology and became a poet at forty. She has been called “an oral historian of the alienated” by critic Grace Cavalieri. Chard DeNiord has written of McGrath’s work: “In an age of rampant subterfuge, false certainty, and a diminution of strong feminist voices, McGrath’s voice provides a welcome yawp that weds intensely personal narratives to the larger public theater of our daily lives in contemporary America.” McGrath is the current judge of the Yeats Prize in Poetry and is the series editor of The Tenth Gate Prize with the Word Works, which is dedicated to promoting the work of poets in mid-career. She teaches creative writing at Central Connecticut State University and lives in Essex, CT with her husband, a boatbuilder. She has a baking problem she’s trying to get under control.

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