Each mortal woman born of woman wakes
by daily changes from infant to girl,
and girlhood holds her ’til first moon-time makes
her a maiden, whose mouth corners oft curl
at hapless founderings of youth-bull boys.
Motherhood claims her at times she chooses,
if fate favors her; her joy increases.
As her children grow, she puts away toys.
her house takes on all sorts of new uses,
and even a crone’s work never ceases.
You are there through all a woman’s seasons,
Great Inanna, queen of subtle beauty.
Women adore you for mighty reasons:
some recall how you did divine duty
for all mortal being in realms of dead.
Others praise your vengeance on fickle men,
and others envy your stream of lovers.
You stand with young ladies when first they wed,
and guard mothers with babes, cornered in den.
Your spirit guides devoted grandmothers.
Once were you an infant, once long ago.
You were a girl, imperious and fair.
Yet deep compassion also did you show,
by going to Hell, and giving up hair
and jewelry, and garments, for mortals’ sake.
And are you now croned, wise beyond ages,
you who mothered gods and heroes alike?
Today we praise you, and bread do we bake,
for part-payment of your Mother’s wages,
who birthed you — a light in the cold and dark.