This excerpt is from a poem by Rita Dove called ‘The Lady of Freedom Among Us.’ Read the whole poem here.

consider her drenched gaze her shining brow
she who has brought mercy back into the street
and will not retire politely to the potter’s field

having assumed the thick skin of this town
its gritted exhaust its sunscorch and blear
she rests in her weathered plumage
bigboned resolute

don’t think you can ever forget her
don’t even try
she’s not going to budge

no choice but to grant her space
crown her with sky
for she is one of the many
and she is each of us

Three American Women
Statue of Freedom

Mystery Woman

She stands over Union Square in San Francisco. A magnificent woman holding a trident and laurel wreath, as if you could rise up and fly right through it. The inscription on the square base supporting the column describes the dedication of the monument to Admiral George Dewey. The Dewey Monument was dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1903 to commemorate the victory of the American Navy at Manila Bay on May 1, 1898. It describes the war, but says nothing to identify the Goddess statue. There is no mention of this Lady’s name on the monument. Youngest of our three American women, who is this mysterious goddess?