Helen Reddy: Mingo, Iowa, circa 1976

My grandmother died the other day
Without remembering how I loved her
And danced and cartwheeled
To the stories she sang

This is for both of us

I didn’t know how to love him either
We commiserated about it
I did the splits on the olive carpet
And tried to understand

Were you singing to me

They weren’t danceable songs
But they made me feel something
My seven-year-old body needed to know
About love and being loved

You wanted to be loved

I turned the volume up to hear her
The fighting in the hall scared me
Woke me in the middle of the night
Where the needle skipped

Sometimes I was afraid for you

I wondered about her secrets
How they made her rageful
Why she felt unwanted
What made her want to leave

I found a part of myself in you

Regarding the men who didn’t show up
The ones who made her feel invisible
When she wanted to be invincible
I felt a twinge of recognition

I claim you as my own

Bullied girls cry for good reason
Women do too when they feel trapped
Stuck in small desolate places
Where freedom acts like betrayal

I cried along with you

That house is no longer lived in
We used to have a fireplace there
We buried the bad memories
Alongside the dead rabbits

I am trying to understand

When the truth is set to music
This longing in feminine voice
I couldn’t help but hear it
She was singing to me

About what it means to be a Woman

— Anthony Weeks, October 2, 2020

Helen Reddy, Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archive



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