"Not all women, trees, or ovens are identical." -- Mishna Pesachim 3:4, in the name of R' Akiva
Some women like winter. Some incubate babies
and some have no uterus. Some wear eyeliner.
Some are happiest in Israeli sandals
flaunting our pedicured toes.
Some are stronger than the steel cables
that hold up a suspension bridge.
Some of us are notorious.
Some of us write love poems.
Some of us have roots that go deep
into the earth and will not be shaken.
Some give our fruit and branches
and trunk until we are nothing but stumps.
Some grow thorns to protect ourselves
even if we're vilified for it.
Some women are more like trees
than like ovens: constantly changing.
Some women are nourishing and warm.
Some women burn with holy fire.
Some of us are irreducible, incomparable
like the Holy One of Blessing Herself.
Some women balance justice and mercy.
Some are mirrors: we'll give kindness
as we receive, but injustice causes
our eyes to blaze the world into ash.
This poem arose out of a wonderful line from mishna that I encountered in Heschel's book Torah from Heaven, which I've been slowly reading on Wednesday mornings with my coffee shop hevruta group for well over a year.
Some give our fruit and branches / and trunk until we are nothing but stumps. See Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. (Wow, is that one messed-up parable about the damage of boundary-less love.)
[I]njustice causes / our eyes to blaze the world into ash. See the Talmudic story of R' Shimon bar Yochai, who spent twelve years in a cave, and when he emerged, was so outraged by what he saw as people's poor priorities and choices that his very gaze set the world on fire.