“Your small hands, precisely equal to my own-“

“your small hands precisely equal to my own- only the thumb is larger, longer- in these hands/ I could trust the world, or in many hands like these/…” 

When I read this, I immediately assumed she was speaking to a another woman, possibly a lover, but initially a specific person rather than addressing women in general. She then transitions into referencing women as a whole when she says “… or in many hands like these…”.  Rich then goes on to talk about “…hands like these,/ handling power-tools, or steering-wheel…” physical labor oriented tasks that would be typically attributed to men;  but Rich asserts that she ‘could trust’ these jobs in the hands of women.  I feel here that she is not only saying that women can do the same jobs as men, but on a grander scale, that women are equal to men, and are equally capable to “…pilot the exporters rescue-ship/ through icebergs, or piece together/ the fine, needle-like herds of a great krater-cup/…” 

Towards the end of the stanza, Rich references “… figures of ecstatic women striding/ to the sibyl’s den or the Eleusinian cave-“ Both of these are allusions to important and powerful females in ancient Greece and Greek mythology.  A Sibyl was a woman through which deities would communicate oracles and prophecies.  An Eleusinian Cave was a secret ceremonial site in ancient Greece, at which rituals were performed in honor of the Goddess Demeter, and her daughter Persephone.  I believe Rich added this reference because Demeter is the goddess of fertility.  

One thought on ““Your small hands, precisely equal to my own-“”

  1. I’m glad you brought up Rich’s allusion to Greek myths. She often talks about Greek heroes in her poems and I feel like he importance of these stories are often overlooked when we discuss her work.
    I think it’s interesting that Rich takes about trusting both this world and many worlds in the hands of women. I think this references women of the past and the way they’re carried responsibility, which ties into the allusions to Greek mythology and history.

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