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Like the 19th century women of the
Shun-te district of Kwangtung,
I have no desire to marry
But do not confine me to girls' homes
to remain a virgin
This was haven
rather than being sixth wife, concubine,
a peasant working the fields
abused by the landlord
A slave
Or a wealthy daughter
with the perfect "Golden Lily"*
To bear perfect male children
To bundle up a baby girl late at night
and throw her into the river
No pharaoh's daughter to find her
She will never live to rule many
Yin and yang
Thunderous skies and bright sunshine
Complementary
Opposing
A woman's lot first to serve
the father, then husband, then son
Let me be instead
one from the Manchu Dynasty
One thousand women
who left poetry in print
and used the written word
to enjoy those freedoms
they lacked in reality

*It was a sign of beauty, class and wealth for women to have tiny feet. The perfect "Golden Lily" was the perfect size three feet. To obtain this size, parents would bind the feet at birth to prevent growth. This, more often than not, caused horribly deformed feet.


Michele Rainford has been writing poetry for several years. She attended the University of Houston - University Park where she took writing work shops with renowned writers including the late Donald Barthelme, Philip Lopate and Cynthia McDonald. Michele has been a featured poet at the Alabama Theatre BookStop, Barnes & Noble (West Holcombe), Voices Breaking Boundaries at Borders Books (Meyerland Plaza), the First Friday reading series at InPrint House and the Rudolph Poissant Gallery. Her poems have been accepted for publication and/or published in several publications including Maelstrom, Sulphur River Review, PEGASUS and Our Texas. She was a juried poet at the Houston Poetry Fest in 1997 and 1998, and a featured poet in 1999 after tying for first place with two other poets at the 1998 Houston Poetry Festival.

Much of her poetry comes from the perspective of being an immigrant and the unique experience of being a part of two distinct and separate cultures, the culture of her heart, her Caribbean homeland, and the culture of her adopted country. One may not be familiar with the specifics in her poems, but there is a universality to them.

E-mail Michele Rainford at MRJAM2@juno.com




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