Vox Populi

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Rachel Hadas: Little Free Library, Turner’s Falls

Vermont, June 2020


Having gone out of our way

to get to a dispensary,

we happened on this library,

its modest random contents free

to anyone who happened by.

Except there was no one but me

and my husband. Empty street,

brick sidewalks and a bench to sit—

the tiny Massachusetts town

swathed and shuttered in lockdown

except this little library box,

which had no need of any locks.

I peered inside. What was the book

I serendipitously took?

The title stopped me: Crones Don’t Whine.

So if you do whine, does that mean

you fail to qualify as crone?

Are crones what we aspire to be?

Women do age variously,

but we all age. You may not whine,

but no one is exempt from time.

The years take individual tolls,

shrink or expand our separate souls.

Sometimes an aging woman’s face

crusts into a carapace,

stiff, lapidary, leathery

landscape of time’s geography.

Whining is something not to do.

But can’t tears be allowed to flow?

Tears, blood, lymph—all irrigate.

We need this moisture early, late

in life. Crones do not whine: agreed.

But pain’s a constant, and the need

to let it out, give it a name

shouldn’t be a source of shame.

It’s just a sign of being human,

whether you are a man or woman.

This need never diminishes.

The book was cradled on my knees

as we drove home through leafy green

into the strange embrace of June

and open-ended quarantine.

I didn’t feel the need to whine.

I’m practicing to be a crone.

From Pandemic Almanac (Ragged Sky, 2022). Copyright Rachel Hadas 2022. Included in Vox Populi with permission.

Rachel Hadas is the author of many books of poetry, prose, and translations. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant in poetry, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Rachel Hadas (photo: Rutgers University)

4 comments on “Rachel Hadas: Little Free Library, Turner’s Falls

  1. Lisa Zimmerman
    July 3, 2022

    I will try not to whine; however, I cry whenever I feel like it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Barbara Huntington
    July 3, 2022

    Having entered cronedom, I reserve the right to whine. Have at it!

    Liked by 3 people

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