A Feminist ‘If”

Can you keep your heart wide open
When all about you are closing theirs?
Can you trust yourself when all doubt you,
But make allowance for doubts and cares?

Can you wait and not be tired by waiting,
And being injured, don’t hurt back?
Being talked about, don’t turn to baiting,
Hold friendship tightly, yet learn to tack ?

Can you dream–and not make dreams your mistress,
Can you think–and then revise that thought?
Can you meet with loss and not be listless,
Keep your temper when all’s come to naught?

Can you bear to hear what you have spoken
Twisted away from what you meant?
Or see what you’ve given your life to, broken,
And stoop and straighten what’s been bent?

Can you heap together all that matters,
And risk the whole on one coin toss?
See around you all in tatters,
Yet move beyond your pain and loss?

Can you gather life’s abundance
Without damage to the earth?
Use reason without redundance,
Without stinting joy or mirth?

Can you meet the day with expectation,
Yet not be discouraged when it falls short?
Can you greet the night without trepidation,
And welcome dreams of every sort?

Can you talk with others, yet hold your center,
Walk with others, yet keep your pace?
Know loving friends will hurt you, yet stay tender?
Then–may be–you’ll travel well through time and space.

By Anne Dalke

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