Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower by Susan J. Erickson


“Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower” by Susan J. Erickson


The setup looked so innocent. Like a rustic
LEGO estate. Before you ask, the ivy escape route
now clambering up the walls was tended
by an apprentice of Edward Scissorhands.
The Government was reclaiming this tract
for a planned wilderness. It was so quiet
                 I could hear my hair grow. Occasionally
a crazed scientist would wander by, eyes
to the ground, mapping endangered four-leaf clover.

I was endangered too, but had signed on to relinquish
the rib of victimhood. I thought life could be arranged
so only my favorite pineapple LifeSavers came up
in the assorted roll. One sleeve at a time, I slipped
out of my coat sewn from sackcloth and shadows
                 to wear the skin of solitude.
Each day I recited that line from Rilke:
Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell.

When I came down from the tower, the media wanted
a country western song. Everyone would hum,
wipe away a tear, then sing aloud the verse
where Wrong crashes its vintage pickup. Instead,
I uncoiled my crown of braids, cut the ties and loosened
the strands that held my story captive. Every day
                 new towers of darkness rise. Do I need to say
your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon
to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage?



Originally published in Sweet Tree Review



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Susan J. Erickson Artist Statement:

In 2017 my first full-length book of poetry “Lauren Bacall Shares a
Limousine” was published by Brick Road Poetry Press. It is a book of
poems in women’s voices.
There is an Emily Dickinson poem that reads, “If your Nerve, deny you–
/Go above your Nerve–”. I think of this book as telling the story of
women who went above their nerve. I wanted to understand their
contributions, pay homage to them and maybe dramatize how each of
us can go above nerve.
I came late to poetry and was 77 when the book was released. I hope
my story encourages older women to pursue their creative talents.


Author: A Room of Her Own

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