Alice Walker

Women

They were women then
My mama's generation
Husky of voice--Stout of
Step
With fists as well as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged Generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
without knowing a page
Of it
Themselves.

Questions for Discussion:
Discuss the author's use of imagery and metaphor. Find three specific examples and determine how each metaphor contributes to the meaning of the poem.
How does Walker use paradox at the end? How could this be true?
Examine and discuss the author's enjambment (choice of when to start a new line, and how many words to put ton a line).
What is the tone of the poem? What is the speaker's purpose?

 

Uncles

They had broken teeth
And billy club scars
But we didn't notice
Or mind
There were uncles.
It was their job.
To come home every summer
From the North
And tell my father
He wasn't no man
And make my mother
Cry and long
For Denver, Jersey City,
Philadelphia.
They were uncles.
Who noticed how
Much
They drank
And acted womanish
With they do-rags
We were nieces.
And they were almost
Always good
For a nickel
Sometimes
a dime.