Phenomenal Woman

by Ruby on April 16, 2010

Today’s poem comes from the manager of the cashiers, Karineh. This is why she selected it:

“Here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. The first time I read this, I fell in love; whether it was with woman, poetry, Maya, or the feelings that were conjured, I cannot say.  Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have phenomenal women intersect my life stories.  One day I hope to write my own version of phenomenal woman and offer it in gratitude.”

Maya Angelou is a prolific author and poet, and we should have many of her collections in stock, including Complete Collected Poems, Phenomenal Woman, and Poems: Maya Angelou. If you would like to learn more about Maya Angelou’s life, I recommend her beautifully written biography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her more recent Letter to my Daughter, which my own mother gave to me.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.