"To the Women I’ve Never Met" - Elsa Russo

"To the Women I've Never Met" - Elsa Russo

My dear Aralee
I’m sorry to say you are not the first
Nor I suspect far from the last
Woman that I have wanted to meet
And simply showed up too late

My family has legends
And they are great legends
Of women of great wisdom and power and humor
Given different circumstances they could have been veterinarians or fashion designers or better
Sadly, I was born, simply too late

I have heard stories
Of the women that I saw
As older more settled creatures
Wrinkled and smelling of avon skin cream and age
And I was too late to see them young

I have been told
Of my first best ex’s mother
Who was the first to tell his father he could do whatever he wanted
Pushed her children to believe that too
But I found John too late

I have been shown photographs
Of friends, lovers, mothers, grandmothers
Cousins, sisters, teachers, mentors,
And poets
You would have loved her and she would have loved you, I’m sorry that I showed up too late

But I can assure you
The memory of you has never withered nor faded
From the minds of those who have told me about you
Through them I hear the echoes of you
And I wish that I hadn’t shown up too late

I said in a recent poem
How I believed time travel could be possible
Through the stitches sewn into a garment
I also think it’s possible through the stitches of a memory
And the memories that stitch each person to another
And by following the stitches back
Through the people that knew you
I will achieve my task and find you waiting there
With a smile on your face
And maybe then I’ll realize that I've never been too late

(photo of Aralee Strange by Bob Brussack)

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