So maybe it’s because today was one of those days when I am supremely aware of how much I love my job and — at the same time — of how difficult and draining it can be, but I went off looking for some poem, any poem, about what it means to be, in the words of one of the most odious old men with whom I worked early in my career, a “lady lawyer.”
And there weren’t any.
Well, that’s how it seemed. There was Audre Lord’s “The Women of Dan Dance with Swords in their Hands to Mark the Time When They Were Warriors,” which says:
I did not fall from the sky
nor descend like a plague of locusts
to drink color and strength from the earth
and I do not come like rain
as a tribute or symbol for earth’s becoming
I come as a woman
dark and open
some times I fall like night
only when I must die
in order to rise again.
I do not come like a secret warrior
with an unsheathed sword in my mouth
hidden behind my tongue
slicing my throat to ribbons
of service with a smile
while the blood runs
down and out
through holes in the two sacred mounds
on my chest.
I come like a woman
who I am
spreading out through nights
laughter and promise
and dark heat
warming whatever I touch
that is living
what is already dead.
And, like Sir John Davies, I, too, can say:
The Law my calling is, my robe, my tongue, my pen.
Wealth and opinion gain, and make me judge of men.
The known dishonest cause, I never did defend,
Nor spun out suits in length, but wisht and sought an end
Nor counsel did bewray, nor of both parties take,
Nor ever tooke I fee for which I never spake.
But I couldn’t really find any poems about what I do, when I step, full woman, into the circle of sand, when I chalk my palms, when I grab the sweetly-balanced heft of the broadsword, when I invoke the Bramble Bush, when The Law and I, in an act of pure grace, make sense of each other, when I thread the Glass Beads, when I start to Circle The Other Sword.
So, here it goes, my poem poor for all those Lady Lawyers Nightly in Need of a Poem:
I’m old at this, with
Scars I wear like jewels, tattoos, arms sculpted at the gym.
While you’re looking at my breasts
I’m dancing, doping in, reading the statute.
You’re going to make a mistake. I’m going to see it, seize it, make it my own.
The statute sings to me. We make love early, from three to four am. You’re not aware then — but I am.
Athena wakes the Law and that’s when I sneak in through beryl halls, shot through with chalcedony and peridot, and know Her, in the most biblical sense: Sappho and her minions, the Seraphim and Cherubim, the Strongholds, the Thrones, the Virtues, the Archangels. That beatified, bawdy wench, the Law, and me. The sheets are cottony, cool, and heavy against our skin. Dawn dances deep within our darkest sighs.
The silence — when all the voices who wrote the law talk to me — is like my time alone beneath the chestnut tree. I hear nothing, everything, all that is.
Look over there.
That blinking flash of light was the edge of my sword. That was you losing while all that lovely precedent, the statute, The Law, and I are out together dancing, me going backwards and in high heels, cheek to cheek.