Judy Grahn
  • Judy Grahn
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Solemnly swearing, to swear as an oath to you

who have somehow gotten to be a pale old woman;

swearing, as if an oath could be wrapped around

your shoulders

like a new coat:

For your 28 dollars a week and the bastard boss

you never let yourself hate;

and the work, all the work you did at home

where you never got paid;

For your mouth that got thinner and thinner

until it disappeared as if you had choked on it,

watching the hard liquor break your fine husband down

into a dead joke.

For the strange mole, like a third eye

right in the middle of your forehead;

for your religion which insisted that people

are beautiful golden birds and must be preserved;

for your persistent nerve

and plain white talk —

the common woman is as common

as good bread

as common as when you couldnt go on

but did.

For all the world we didnt know we held in common

all along

the common woman is as common as the best of bread

and will rise

and will become strong — I swear it to you

I swear it to you on my own head

I swear it to you on my common



Judy Grahn is internationally known as a poet and cultural theorist. Her accessible, short poems are collected in love belongs to those who do the feeling, from Red Hen Press in Los Angeles. The book won a Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry in 2008. Judy Grahn’s memoir,
A Simple Revolution, has just been published by Aunt Lute Press. Grahn codirects the Women’s Spirituality master’s program at Sofia University in Palo Alto. The poem is reprinted by permission.

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