I Thought I Should Be Joan of Arc
The white gown flares over my flesh.
The fire stings like a winter river.
Even in the arch of the flames, I ask
Have I done enough?
Am I good enough?
I could be Amelia Earhart
injured and starving under the wing
of my Lockheed Model 10 Elektra
lost on an uncharted Pacific island,
my flight goggles shattered.
See what happens to women heroes?
When I was a child
I thought I should save the whole world
to be good enough to satisfy my parents.
I should be smart, pretty, charming, brave,
pile on the adjectives.
I thought and I thought and I thought
and I rushed into having babies.
That’s when I got brave.
Penelope Scambly Schott‘s newest books are Bailing the River, and Serpent Love: A Mother-Daughter Epic. She is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry.