Athena, god­dess of wis­dom and just war, patroness of craft; Roman work 2nd c. CE, after Greek orig­i­nal of first half of 4th c. BCE, marble

A Sin­gle Woman of Valor

A woman of val­or, who can find?

—Proverbs 31:10

Far beyond pearls is my value.

After years of self-doubt, and therapy,

my heart at last trusts in me.

I know I lack no fortune.

I repay my good, and, sometimes,

because like one of my beloved grandmothers

I find it dif­fi­cult to relin­quish grudges, my harm.

I seek out wool and linen

(prefer­ably cash­mere, and wrinkle-free),

most will­ing­ly.

I am like a merchant’s ships;

from afar, I bring my sustenance.

I rise while it is still night­time, and

brew cof­fee for my household.

I con­sid­er and I buy.

I work out.

I sense that my enter­prise is good

so I sleep well at night.

I spread out my palm to the poor

and extend my hands to the destitute—

not lit­er­al­ly, in most cases,

but more typ­i­cal­ly via tax-deductible contributions

and GoFundMe campaigns.

I fear not snow for my household,

for I live in a large apart­ment building

and the city plows clear the streets.

Bed­spreads I buy on sale;

Lands’ End and Trav­el­Smith are my clothing.

I hope that as I age, smil­ing­ly I will await

my last day.

I open my mouth with Wis­dom, or so I believe,

and I try, might­i­ly, to remember

my mother’s teach­ing of kindness,

and to keep it on my tongue,

and in my emails.

I antic­i­pate the needs of my house­hold, so that

there is always food, and bot­tled water, and toi­let paper.

I do like the bread of idle­ness, though—

if by that you mean naps.”

I have no chil­dren to rise and cel­e­brate me

and no hus­band to com­mend me.

Yet I imag­ine Solomon him­self in agree­ment that

my deeds may still praise at those gates.

Eri­ka Drei­fus’s lat­est book, Birthright: Poems, was pub­lished by Kel­say Books in Novem­ber 2019. Her short-sto­ry col­lec­tion Qui­et Amer­i­cans was named an Amer­i­can Library Association/​Sophie Brody Medal Hon­or Title for out­stand­ing achieve­ment in Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture. An Adjunct Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at Baruch Col­lege of The City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York, Eri­ka is deeply engaged with and con­ver­sant in con­tem­po­rary lit­er­a­ture, pub­lish­ing, and Jew­ish writ­ing. She is also the edi­tor and pub­lish­er of The Prac­tic­ing Writer, a free (and pop­u­lar) e‑newsletter that fea­tures oppor­tu­ni­ties and resources for fic­tion­ists, poets, and writ­ers of cre­ative nonfiction.