Susan Griffin is a poetess who has published two collections of poetry. She worked in many stereotypical female jobs. Her poetry reflects much of the experiences she gained in these jobs. She lives in San Francisco. This poem is one of my favorites.
I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman
I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown
by a slave-master (because she
talked back), and who
had a ransom on her head
of thousands of dollars and who
was never caught, and who
had no use for the law
when the law was wrong,
who defied the law. I like
to think of her.
I like to think of her especially
when I think of the problem of
The legal answer
to the problem of feeding children
is ten free lunches every month,
being equal, in the child’s real life,
to eating lunch ever other day.
Monday but not Tuesday.
I like to think of the President
eating lunch Monday, but not
And when I think of the President
and the law, and the problem of
feeding children, I like to think to
think of Harriet Tubman
and her revolver.
and then sometimes
I think of the President
and other men,
men who practice the law,
who revere the law,
who make the law,
who enforce the law
who live behind and operate through
and feed themselves
at the expense of
because of the law,
men who sit in paneled offices,
and think about vacations
and tell women
whose care it is
to feed children
not to be hysterical
not to be hysterical as in the word
hysterikos, the greek for
not to care,
not to bother the men
because they want to think
of others things
and do not want
to take the women seriously.
I want them
to take women seriously.
I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
remember she was beat by a white man
and she lived
and she lived to redress her grievances,
and she lived in swamps
and wore the clothes of a man
bringing hundreds of fugitives from
slavery, and was never caught,
and led an army,
and won a battle,
and defied laws
because the laws were wrong, I want men
to take us seriously.
I am tired wanting them to think
about right and wrong.
I want them to fear.
I want them to feel fear now
as I have felt suffering in the womb, and
I want them
that there is always a time
there is always a time to make right
what is wrong,
there is always a time
and that time is beginning.
Ms. Tubman also worked in the women’s movement. She believed in equality for all people regardless of gender or skin color.She was tough and determined. Ms. Tubman crossed the Mason Dixon line hundreds of times to bring runaway slaves north to live in freedom. She also gave lectures to abolitionist groups, which wasn’t done. She was a woman and a woman of color standing up in front of a room of mostly white people speaking her truth. Explaining what slavery was really like. Perhaps God did touch her and give her an angel to protect her as she went about her very important work. In my heart and soul, Harriet Tubman earned a Medal of Honor even though there was no such thing in the 1800’s. There wasn’t a Medal of Honor but she wouldn’t have been awarded it if there had been. But, when I think of Harriet Tubman, she is a woman who has earned all medals and whose bravery and determination helped to change the world and helped end the horror of slavery.
No matter what gender we are, or what skin color we have, or what religion or spiritual system we practice, of if we practice any system, no matter if we are Oxford educated or street educated, we are all one people and we are the family of man. We have a journey of one life and we are all equal. We have one planet and we must preserve her to preserve our lives.