For Women and Their Bodies

and for Henrietta Lacks

The riptide of self and you,
in immortal life is the feminine
body of night, and secrets
of what multiplies when eyes are shut
and the truth is hidden.

We have all lived you, Henrietta.
They have owned our bodies, crashed
our essence, mingled with the higher levels
of ourselves, the renewal of life
left behind, blood in the tributaries
and mouths erected in dams.

We are unaware of our strife, but
here is your river, the return
and your flow,
the principled production, the survival
consumption, the sensuality of sale.

What does one woman produce
with her body? The labor of the workhouses,
the children of the mills, the borders,
the mothers alone with
only their bodies.

Leave it behind now, life to
begin again. You are immortal—
the line of cells, the dominoes of progression
and the infinite falling of truth
again and again, just for you
not for my doctor, my scientist, elite professors
of the egoist and the risen minds.

You, from the feminine life—
consider your source.
Of what all your fingers have extracted from our bodies.
We will always live the immortal life.
We are Henrietta—the masters of our bodies,
the reproductive and infinite truth.

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About Kate Houck

Educator. Human. Poet. Seeking truth through experience.
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9 Responses to For Women and Their Bodies

  1. inesephoto says:

    Thank you for this beautiful tribute!

    • Kate Houck says:

      Thank you, Inese. Women are sadly the victims of so much injustice, now and throughout history. But, also remarkable symbols of strength and perseverance. Thanks again for reading!

  2. Tom Schultz says:

    Really nice. I read the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for a book club and am reading it now for another this weekend. The book is a really well-told tale, but the story is such a sad one of exploitation. I think you’ve captured the indignation and the strength of the survivors so well in your poem. More evidence of your gift. 🙂

    • Kate Houck says:

      I appreciate it, Tom. It was our city-wide read last year. And, I recently got to experience a rendition of the book as a play with music and all. Providing more inspiration for this 🙂 Enjoy more upcoming discussion on the book!

  3. This is so beautiful and powerful Kate. Maybe if more men read this they would realize how truly strong women are and in so many ways stronger than a man ever could be. Wonderful.

    • Kate Houck says:

      Dom, thank you. What thoughtful comments…I am honored. I hope humanity, in general, gains more insight and compassion into the struggles of others around them. Keep writing as you do and maybe it will happen 🙂

  4. AB says:

    Hi Kate, I hope all is well. Brilliant work! For some reason you don’t appear on my likes screen while I get the email when you read and liked a post, similarly unable to to see your work on wpreader as well. Do check if there is an easy fix in your settings for it. Take care.

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