One of the gifts that struggling mothers most appreciate is a tidbit about how some other woman was a “late bloomer.” In the extraordinary book. With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman [Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan, 1992], editor translator Marcia Folk mentions—generously—that the Yiddish writer Malka Tussman did not publish her first book of poems until she was over fifty. Before her literary emancipation, Tussman urgently penned the following:
I write poetry, read a great deal. Prophets, Psalms, Song of Songs, Job, Ecclesiastes. Shakespeare, Goethe, Byron, Blake, Baudelaire, Rimbaud. Whitman and Rimbaud open my up to Myself, give me freedom of movement within the rhythm of my own being, my own breathing.
I am loved—
I am a wife—
I am a mother—
I want to scream—I want to run—I want to cry—And I do what I have to do, and in between poems break through.