Heroine's Journey

(also at The Story Plant

I drank with my sister in Downer’s Grove, Illinois last Friday catching up on each other’s lives as we waited for a text from her daughter.  Finally, around 10, it came in, from her youngest, my niece, who was in St. Louis at the Black Lives Matter march protesting another ‘not guilty’ verdict for another cop who shot another black guy to death.

“Got out just as the SWAT team arrived. Safe.”                 

My thoughts have been fractured and staccato lately, mirroring the off- rhythms of the world. As a seeming consequence, I’ve been writing in loose prose and poetry. An invitation to write about “women’s roles” arrived to this jagged mind state and my gut response to the invitation was, I thought we could be astronauts now.

I rebelled. I threw a fit in loose prose

and I thought about the differences

between roles, stereotypes, and archetypes.

Nurturer. Lover. Cheerleader. I am them. Not roles. Part of me,  

which isn’t to say there aren’t roles I play as I walk my beat.

We play roles.

Or, roles are assigned to us, organizing our complicated selves into consumable units circumscribed by function.

But a role isn’t necessarily a violation of one’s self, of course. It can be an expression of one’s self, too. But I do think separating ourselves from our roles is a lifelong learning, whether those are gender roles, family roles, or cultural roles. Certainly that separation is one of the hero’s journeys.

Or heroine’s.

The assignment, “women’s roles,” also made me reflect on the cultural need to “gender” everything and the emerging movement toward a more continuum-based understanding, or better yet, a patchwork understanding of gender, unconfined by the limited boundaries binaries dictate and govern our minds with.

I do love a writing assignment and letting it take my thoughts away.       

Assignment in. Writing out. Women’s roles. Here’s what happened.


Women’s Roles

Bread baker.


Tongue biter.

Freedom fighter.


But not really.  

A woman soldier.


But not really. 

A female prisoner. 



What is a woman’s role?

Caster of spells.

Cutter of throats.

Defender of evil men.

Indirect.  In your face. Interpretive.

Master and minion

of the Snake.


pretty, cute, or ok.

Or . . .

(please god, no)  

Because it is your story.



What makes a role a woman’s role?

The pay grade?

The caring?

For children? The sick? The boss? The injured? The broken? The poor?

What makes a symbol hers?

Cup and cauldron,

Holy hole.

Passive vessel through which and in which that which is whole cums- comes.

Receiver. Receptacle.

The passive voice,

she who gets







What is a woman’s role?


of babies,

or blood.

Either way, creators

make the Word flesh, strike the neural chord that makes the mind sing and the brain squirt and thus the body feels

the journey, from Word to flesh

from thought to biochemical

from idea to feeling.   

I’m telling the story.



What makes a book a women’s book?

Is it the promise of love from another, or even from one’s self, should the former come to be too much to hope for or believe?




A private embrace of an unvalued wholeness that leaves the body hungry. 

I’m telling the story 

Of the Word made flesh that strikes the neural chord that makes the mind sing and the brain squirt and thus the body feels

the journey, from Word to flesh, from thought to biochemical, from idea to feeling.   

I’m telling the story

Of woman’s roles which are words

made Flesh.