California Arts Council

State of California

"Minerva" poem highlights exemplary women in California
California writer read poem at California Museum and at The Women's Conference

Published: 03-11-2010

The following poem was written by Azure Antoinette, a California writer and artistic director of Get Lit, non-profit presenter of literary performance, education and teen poetry programs based on southern California. Antoinette read this piece for the Women in History day at The California Museum in March 2010, as well as at the October 2009 Women's Conference in Long Beach for The Minerva Awards announcement and honor.


Legacy is different for each person
some aspire to have their child to be the first to graduate high school
others to carry on the family tradition in the military
some to win the pie eating contest in the county
what have you
then there are those whose path is laid with strategic purpose of human service
and sometimes your purpose is set before you were just a dream turned embryo turned
almond smelling skin of newborn daughter

I journey on some days
yesterday I found myself standing
atop the majestic purple mountains
of California
looking out over the
ocean that glistened
with diamond fragments
Minerva seated
grizzly bear at her feet
it was all peace
mixed with determination
Minerva -- meaning Born From the head
of your father - you are wisdom
And logic and intellect
You are warrior
but you -- fight for others.

She sets precedent for all women that
follow her in our Golden state
and if I had to speculate
I would say that Minerva is proud.
it is one thing to identify that there are issues
between the staggering numbers of homeless, to rampant disease, illiteracy, to, to, to.
it is entirely different when a woman rushes to the frontlines of war to save humanity.
I applaud you.

the duality of purpose and happiness is hard to understand
I am still learning many things
but on the days when I find it hard
to continue progress
I can access the stories of
"architects of change"
this world wears shades of grey so well
and you, these women have this
amber flex about you
I thought maybe I was looking at an aura
or the sun was resting inside of your breastplates

or you had constellations inside of your mouths
in dreams I saw you speak of your work
stars fell from your lips - yes that is it
you are of the Universe in all its glory

so you should know that I have a list of female
on that list I have placed my mother Octavia, and Maya Angelou
& I made room for additions
they are as follows
"Sweet" Alice Harris
Betty Chin
Ramona Delgado
Jennie Hernandez Gin
Dr. Kathy Hull
Sister Jennie Lechtenberg
Sally Ride
Janice Mirikitani
Ivelise Markovits
Captain Maureen Pennington
Christy Porter
Helen Devore Waukazoo
Lula Washington
Maria Shriver

Maria, if I may call you that
your name was etched into my spirit by my mother at an early age
she too, recognizes remarkable legacy and spirit in others
I remember the day was a little past golden
we were watching the news
there you were on a screen in my living room
she spoke of you, and your mother Eunice Kennedy and your father Sergeant Shriver and
the responsibility of public service that your family instilled in you
she told me that it was important to walk in my path
to stay focused
she told me of you
and from the screen I think I might have captured your essence

yes Minerva, is pleased.
wisdom and peace never looked so good to a tireless warrior.
I don't know if it is possible for a goddess to rest.
I am not sure if I could send her a message in the event I could
I would tell her that Maria Shriver and the Minerva recipients are carrying the torch here
on earth
and Minerva needn't trouble.
In the words of 2008 Minerva recipient
Eunice Shriver, I urge all to
"Follow Maria..."

copyright 2010 Azure Antoinette

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