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Union of Women
Carolyn Kizer
Size: 8in. w x 14in. h
Edition: 200
Hand Printed By: Sam Hamill and Leslie Cox / 2003
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Union of Women
Carolyn Kizer

At a literary gathering in Santa Monica
I encounter a bearded lady wearing a union button.
We engage each other in friendly conversation:
When I was a little girl in Spokane, Washington,
I took enormous satisfaction in the label
Sewn to my clothes by the Ladies Garment Workers Union.
I was contributing to the Wealth of Women
As I chose my dresses. O Solidarity! O Feminism!
Much later I met a Ladies Garment Workers Union
Leader who told me that she was the only woman
Who'd ever been an official in that union,
Always ignored, outvoted. I felt retrospectively cheated.
Now my new friend, the one with the white beard (she
Won't mind if I mention it, she wrote a cinquain about it)
Says that her Local 814 (mostly women) engages in struggle
With the terrible Sheraton, its unfair labor practices
Concerning the ladies who change the beds and mop the bathrooms,
And fold the ends of the toilet paper
Into those stupid triangles, and put the mints on the pillow.
Of course they're all blacks (I mean African Americans)
Or Mexicans who hardly speak English and fear deportation.
It's clear my bearded friend though old and lame is a fighter;
And she writes excellent cinquains: she just sent me a bunch.
(You know what a cinquain is? A nifty form in five lines
Adapted by Crapsey from the medieval French.)
She, as the current jargon has it, made my day.
So here's to Solidarity, cinquains, brave bearded ladies -- Hooray!

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