Woman Walking

Woman Walking covers over 35 years of Elizabeth Rhett Woods’ published poems, from the first slim chapbook, Gone, published by Ladysmith Press in 1972, to 1970: A Novel Poem, published by Ekstasis Editions in 2007.

Recurrent themes are freedom, distance, appetite and hunger, waywardness, wanderlust, and the desire for, and fear of, the lover, the mate: commitment, confinement, responsibility.

These are the poems of a woman who has come to terms with her life. If she were to write an autobiography, the title would be All Right So Far. Now, what matters most is to enjoy as much as possible of each of the next unknown, but shrinking number of days ahead of her.

Woman walking

through the city’s secret
of the streets is pacing
with the flow of the crowd
you are its loosest part
stepping out-to pass this couple
dawdling by windows
slowing down-to let these school girls
scamper for a streetcar
side-stepping-this fat man arguing with
his son

into the clear

alert and balanced as an Arab mare,
beautiful and admired one moment,
invisible and forgotten, one moment later.

But now you look ahead and there
is a cluster of young men on the corner,
the scouts of their eyes’ artillery
already measuring you, threatening
to confine you to the level of their reckoning

They must be faced one by one seen and known to be seen

-meet each one’s eyes
and he is alone-

and looks away-and they
are reduced to single adversaries,
singularly vanquished,

while you are walking
through a silence of ultra-violet understanding
steady as a metronome

waking down the miles
on the trail of time
you are
striding through the city