The rhyme of girls who skin their knees

She always knew she was a girl

by the way older women treated her

their higher standards expected

than if she were a boy

for boys … could climb trees and expose their underwear

while she was scolded and told not to be ‘a little harlot’

boys came barreling in full of spunk and fury

exhibiting their mirth with muddy feet

to ladies who smiled indulgently and patted their

ruffled heads

glancing over at her, with disapproving eyes

and a tut of the chin which said; “I hope you are not

going to track that mud into the kitchen and if you do

be prepared to clean it up. What kind of girl climbs

trees and gets herself full of dirt?

The unspoken and the spoken

those days she sought sympathy when her heart

felt like bursting

responses varying from; “maybe you didn’t ‘try hard

enough, you should apply yourself next time” to “don’t

go on about your problems so much, we all have problems

you are not the only one!” While they fretted and discussed

the poor boy whose horrible girlfriend left him

how grief stricken he was afterward, they could do nothing

it was so hard to watch

not difficult at all to watch her fall

almost amusing

almost delightful

female expectations a bar far too high

even for a gymnast

whilst boys ran beneath it

in spastic freedom

from the quiet exceptionalism of their gender

through the eyes of a woman

she learned early on

to keep her thoughts and wishes to herself

for each vulnerability would be handled roughly

turned against her like a shard of glass

piercing deep

she learned, to do for herself as the boys

were fed, dressed, coveted, admired, flattered

and grew fat and indulgent on it

rather like farm yard pigs

she grew strong in that way pain lends

a thin weed

trying to survive by the side of a busy road

filled with fumes and cars belching their poison

yet she knew if she wanted to survive

she could not walk along that road

by herself, taking short cut

through fields, because that’s where

women were raped

among thorny bushes, hands reaching out

grasping for them, hungry and snarling

she was told it was her fault if she

succumbed and her fault if she died from

fighting them off and her fault if she was

there when she shouldn’t have been

but nobody said it was their fault

or asked them to explain

why after being fed, clothed, petted and cossetted

by women

they chose

to make women their victim

no, that nobody had an answer for

maybe if they did, they would say

women did this to them, poor dears

it’s not the fault of a man! He was spoilt

and that’s a woman’s fault! She didn’t

teach him correctly, he had no choice!

And all the women who gave her

cross looks when she came in with her knees

scuffed from climbing a wall or when she ran

ungainly across the lawn and they chided her

for being ‘unladylike’

smiled at the fattened calf and said

oh my daughter would be so lucky

to marry a man like him! If only she

tried, a little harder.”

Wounded bird

IMG_0920I tried with you, I really tried, and then I let you go

you flew out of the window even as it was closed

panes securely fastened

latch tight and unyielding

because you had never quite been

 

it was you see, a failure of mine

to find you flailing beneath yourself

with a few choice words you could

nourish from my adoration and mend

your rapid fast airy heart

containing only string

for what you need and not

enough for love

 

I was a clay maker

thinking fitfully if I put enough into shape

if my structure were sound and whole

if I poured water to prevent cracks

moistened over the thin spots

despite not being what you wanted

despite being a girl

despite having tired fingers

you would relent and

let me hold you in my lap

as crickets drowned the rush of air in hot melt

 

you were after all

used to mistreatment, I reasoned

surely a bird who had been injured

would long for peace?

the passion of sincerity

a terribly naive hope

when we all know

those who like the wound

will return to their abuse

not the arms of one who

is boring in her devotion

I never thought I should become

that very tedium

you strike against with mended wing

the one you answer last

when bored or idle

not they, who burn in your throat

wakefully lusting

whilst I feel already the part

of spinster and milliner

hemming your spare parts

 

it would be easy for me to

dress like you, smell like you

gather a flock of admirers

play midnight dalliances with

camera and music

cue ..  lights ..  pose ..  fizz

and now that you have shown

your true feathers

I see a little of why you prefer this slovenly approach

it suits your downturn

your denial of yourself

and I feel embarrassed that you had me so hot

as you pulsed beneath my wonder

with practiced charm

so used to hearing the false words you live for

 

I do not own

a penis

though my strength and my passion

would have surprised you

I do not possess

a penchant for games or

the worship sufficient to be

your follower

your worshiper

so little bird

when you escape

please do not

return when the skies fall

and he stops calling

or insults your honor

because my fingers are burnt dry

from believing myself

needy of you

 

 

(Daquin, 1997.)

Superficial

16708220_10208952052418165_5456016437649641167_nSkim the stone on the surface

watch it butt against reflecting light

until falling through surface

out of sight it drops

to a darkness

or a peace

depending upon your vantage point

I for one would welcome

a life spent below, than above

listening to the mocking calls of unseasonal green parrots

filling trees with their envy

they make everything brighter it is true

yet something about the jarring

competitive nature of their plumage

strikes me as less sincere than

the drab and disliked pigeon with

old face and white circles around

his rumey blinking eyes

who can always be relied upon

to lose a toe in Winter

I think of how often I have watched

something curl to the side of a street

and wait to die

how a part of me felt helpless

inhabiting stages where stories

rent through armor and pierced

my conscience

after the third pigeon in a box

tucked beneath my office shoes

my boss told me

look, this is enough

he preferred I collected his shirts from the dry cleaner

bagfuls of shopping for his wife

my perk was

one day I could grow up to be like him

ignore dying birds in the street

driving silver BMW to my Thursday mistress

whilst another slave worked after-hours

filing life upward like blind builb

it came to me then, ungluing my eyelids

leaving behind one word

WRONG

written in magic marker on his desk

I took the cooing box I’d hidden

and the pigeon and I went home

to a cold flat with no furniture

where he proceeded to try not to die

and I watched understanding very well

the hue of his life

for I am a stone who sank before

she saw the sun and only the moon knows

the way to lift me up