When You See a Woman Down

“I betcha think I don’t know nothin’ but singin’ the blues/oh sistaa, have I got news for you/I’m sumthin’, I hope you think that you’re sumthin’ too”

~ “Miss Celie’s Blues” by Shug Avery

A young soon-to-be-woman came to the village elder asking after a man who was engaged with another. She was interested, but cautious, and sought the wise woman’s advice as to how to go about responding to his affections.

She found the old woman bent over some humble musing, humming a tune, with her back to the door. 

     “Come on in, an’ pull in the door.” The younger did as requested. The wiser lifted her head as the younger walked around to face her. “Now, what can I help you settle?”

The younger explained the situation in full: eyes dreamy at times, voice tentative at others. When she had finished it all, she sighed in that way young people do before they learn what fatigue truly is.

      “What do you do when you see a woman down?”

The younger looked surprised and then, confused. She hadn’t asked about a woman. The wiser repeated the question, more slowly this time.

Silence stretched out on the air between them as the younger fell deeper into unknowing.

     “All a man can do is what we do to ourselves, and all we do to ourselves is what we do to each other. Remember Pearl: a woman without sisters is like a bird without wings. No love is blessed when you ignore a woman down.”

     “So…” the younger fumbled, ” what do I do?”

     “Shine your light on her. Sing to her in your heart. Fill her with the good feeling of being considered. And you will have more love than you can imagine: inside of you.”


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