I came along in the dead of winter
born in my own time three weeks late.
Father was at work.
Mother begged a ride from a neighbor
to go and do her woman's work alone.
She napped me on the porch
to be toughened by the snows
and gales of winter,
to cut my teeth on New England nor'easters
and fight the undeclared war against girls.
Middle child, only girl, small for my age.
Both brothers slept the porch in spring
took for granted the abundance
of our neighborhood, the visitors and friends,
the elms and hyacinths, maples and forsythias,
spring greens, yellows and new hues,
the migratory flocks parading back to northern homes.
Both boys read books, played quiet games
grew fat on father's favor.
I grew to a storm-wintered warrior child
sight practiced on bare lilac thicket,
schooled by wind in how the world sounds,
cries accompanied by blackbirds and jays,
layered against the elements.
Perhaps my skirmishes were attempts
to win that unwinable war
but I fought with the fury of calling,
battered brothers' enemies,
marshaled anger from hidden fronts
as I gave birth to myself.
Mary H. Warren