by Jean Cross

Many of us are familiar with Rudyard Kipling's classic poem, IF and while it is a wonderful poem in many ways, it always bothered me how all the lofty aspirations chronicled culminate in being a man and dominating the world.  I thought about the realities of women's lives and how far removed they seemed from this vision of nobility.  LIFE is the result.


If you can have your friend sit in your kitchen

with troubles piled, not knowing what to do

and ease her cares and help her just by listening

and know that she would do the same for you

If you can lend your voice to joy and laughter

and sing and dance to some old blissful song

but keep your wits when facing a disaster

and know when something's right and something's wrong


If you can keep your head above the water

when everywhere the tides against you rise

If you can weep whenever tears are called for

but know that thought and action there applies

If you can put aside your own ambitions

and find the means, long after he is gone,

to feed and clothe and house your child or children

when you don't have the will to carry on


If you can trust yourself and your decisions

but of your own mistakes you are aware

If you can walk with pride amidst derision

which seeks to put you down and keep you there

If you have taken blows and cuts and kickings

and struggled to maintain your self esteem

and rose to get out with your meagre pickings

and dared to be so bold as still to dream


If you can do six things in sixty seconds

and fix and build and organise and run

If you can light the torch when justice beckons

and fight until the fight is o'er and won

If you can summon all that you must summon

to pass a day in quiet dignity

Then, the chances are that you're a woman

and more that this no earthly form can be.