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Image by Mike Cox

they did not stay in one place

but journeyed out into the blue cool of night

with firm calves and bold ways

they wore woolen scarves around their shoulders for protection

from the wind that rushed their hair, their hardened hands

loving the rain’s feel moving over their bodies as they marked the land


as a baby my grandmother touched her hands to my plump cheeks

she took a careful look at me, said my face held within it a wandering spirit

said there was an urge to move in my eyes

as a child, I used to run away from my mother

escaping into the green woods

she had to race after me to catch up

wandering eyes  they called me


these women sang as they walked into the morning light

as part of a daily pattern of living

trading metal pots for food

they held an urge to trek distant paths in their legs, in their minds

loving to watch the wind as it captured the mountains

as it stole across the sea


these were journeying women

they carried herbs and oils wrapped in cloth on their hips

tall women, listening to the rain falling

around their steady figures in the night

absorbing the natural light as it ran around them


with their palms to their foreheads,

they looked into the middle distance

and understood the sky’s movements

from orange  to clay   to dusk


with long skirts in the night, flowing movements

these women could intuit stranger's fears and hatreds

they moved in silence

mapping their souls in the night

with only the stars as their circumference

as they traced quiet patterns on the land



Dorothy Johnson-Laird is a poet and social worker who lives in New York City. She received an M.F.A in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Dorothy also has a passion for African music. She has published music journalism with and Recent poems published by Aji, Cantos, Pomona Valley Review, and Pedestal Magazine, among others. More of Dorothy's poetry can be found at:

Journeying Women
Dorothy Johnson-Laird

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