Milosz to Mitchell and On

by Stephanie Biziewski

I was driven because I wanted to be like others.
I was afraid of what was wild and indecent in me.
— Czeslaw Milosz

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.
— Joni Mitchell

The legacy of womanness is mostly such
that what is decent for us females is
to make ourselves
reshape ourselves
conform ourselves
to some White god-the-father’s image
his rules and often soulless goals
his need-turned-greed
to do
and do
and do

He invokes his peacock prayer. You know, the way a guy gives you the litany of his life’s achievements. He inflates his plumage, tips one brilliant feather after another in your direction. You’re flattered, and admittedly, mildly intrigued. So you fixate on it with him, like listening to a Tarot card reader fascinating you with mystery and promise. And you know you just need to get past this if you’re ever going to engage with a real-er him.

What’s most puzzling when he’s done impressing himself for you is that somehow he usually thinks he knows you. From only a few wide-eyed nods and short breathy giggles, he’s already assumed who-knows-what? is who you are and what you're going to be.

My therapist once kindly explained, His penis wasn’t connected to his heart.

Like trying conversation with someone’s mindless
monologue. The soliloquacious partner leaves
no room for intercourse. Naked

emptiness paved the fierce and fecund
paradise of my sexness
with darkness and distress. Made it
just a parking lot. Nothing left there
for my heart to want.

It’s losing I can’t abide. Beneath
the loneliness and shame, I’m

Anger jackhammers at my hardened
heart and numbed woman

With each bit of black debris that’s freed
I forgive myself. Then him. And
sleeping seeds

filled with Essences of Stephanie
burgeon again

Though romance and relationship
continue to elude, confuse, and
discomfit me

my heart still dares
to love and
love and

love once more with
wildness and

Stephanie Biziewski loves movement as much as she enjoys writing. Someday she’ll know herself as poetry in motion. Until then she’ll use the trusted pen, paper, and computer to express the words that move her.

About Milosz to Mitchell and On—I wrote this poem for the class assignment to choose a meaningful quote from a poet who wrote in the 1970s and use it as an epigraph for a new work. As it happened, I needed lines from both Czesław Miłosz and Joni Mitchell to help me write what I wanted to say.