Cold Where Women Are Wet

Written for the Sandbox Writing Challenge 2018 – Exercise 25


“Do you see something of yourself in this little child?
If so, what?”

You ask what it was like.
Your brows furrow as I flip through multiple pages of rape,
hardly pausing to highlight imaginative beatings.

Memories of terror, visions of death.
Cringing hatred blurring the vision.
Images of crazy pistons, runaway trains.
Bruises burns broken bones invasion pain
bruises burns broken bones invasion pain
bruises burns broken bones invasion pain.

You ask:
given my past,
why the promiscuity?
Once, I hunted for excuses,
citing the tail end of the hippie era.
“Everybody was doing it.”
Still the question:
“But why you?”

I could tell you what the records show.

Looking back,
I think perhaps I was trying to re-enact
the horror, that it might shrink, morph into
a joke or a commonplace memory,
and I thought it could make me
normal, mistakenly believing that frequent practice
between the sheets in all weathers,

on the beach on balmy nights, under trees on starlit evenings,
on the back seats of a cars, in wheat fields and deep grass, in gardens,
behind cinemas, in derelict buildings, under bridges, next to rivers,
in my best friend’s den, in strangers’ garages, in  my grandmas shed
and an unwilling effort in a smelly public inconvenience,

would give me a taste for it.

I’ll admit the thrill of each easy catch.
Ego-tripping through pubs and parks, a skilled actor
playing the part of a sylph, twisting hearts, tweaking dicks.
Hiding my dearth beneath a pretty face,
swaying wet-dream curves, displaying fake sparkle which
as alien lips kissed the throat that used to choke,
and hands, so like those that wrapped around my neck,
stretched toward my shuddering breast.

Gritted teeth,
smothered screams,
cold in the places where women are wet,
shameful failure at pleasure.
Forever unsure
of my cause.

You wonder
how I feel about the past.

I’ll shrug and tell you
the child who dragged her baggage
through hiccupping failure, whose sleepwalking feet
crushed wilting daisies, whose foolish errors
infected the next generation,
finally grew balls.

Fresh air embraces me,
leads me into a waltz. Dancing with my skin and bones
I celebrate the gift of post-menopause.

You ask me how I am now,
your brows so thoroughly furrowed
they might be about to swallow your eyes,

but how kind of you to enquire.
I am like most of us; I have walked and run,
slipped on banana skins, been kicked
by beasts and healed by love.

I retired from lugging dust.

I am well.


©Jane Paterson Basil

37 thoughts on “Cold Where Women Are Wet

  1. Was not prepared for the rawness of this.
    Had to come back after a bit.
    We have lived similar lives, including
    multiple loves, and multiple violence.
    And the way you finished this was sublime.
    “I’m retired from lugging dust…I’m fine.”
    Well met, sister in joy in pain.
    I’m Niki. Blessed to meet you Jane. ♥.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Niki, it’s good to meet you. Your blog is beautiful – it radiates love, reminding me of how I would like to be. I’m working at it, so maybe I’ll get there in the end. Forgiving my abusers seemed like a toughie, but folks like Trump make them seem like a walk in the park. Do you have issues with forgiveness? x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much Jane for the follow and for the lovely comment. I used to have a lot of trouble with forgiving and was constantly triggered by abusers. Two things helped me. One was I set aside a time every day to send healing to people who needed it (a la ho’o’pono pono). I decided one day to do this for every abuser, ever person who from a very young age, had caused me harm. The list was long. I said “I am willing to be willing to forgive.” That was about all I could say at first. But I was also willing for them to be healed of whatever darkness caused them to cause me harm. I always visualized this line of people as they walked by me as heavily cloaked, at night, not seeing faces. They sat around a fire, faces always in shadow, as the healing meditation began. After about a year of this, maybe less, I suddenly realized I truly wanted to forgive these people. Not only that, I one day got in line behind them and sat in the circle facing the fire. I was finally ready to forgive myself. I hope that answers your question. My journey with forgiveness was very long and winding but what helped the most was my believe that you are me, and I am you and one day I will walk your path, and you mine. I wrote a poem about it called Entangled Infinity. Forgiveness became my superpower I guess — and love. But there’s still a lot to be done. Thankfully, I don’t have to think about any moment but right now. =) ♥.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. “you are me, and I am you and one day I will walk your path, and you mine.” It’s a terrifying thought, but there is beauty to it. So, one day we will be the children who grew up to abuse us or to nurture us, or to walk away when we could have helped. We will be the baby born into famine, the child trained to hate and kill the age-old enemy of our people, the rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief… and we will choose what to do with those gifts.
          My beliefs are very different from yours. To put it simply, I think that the planet is a single organism and we are components that have broken down, but you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’m prepared to accept that I could be wrong xx

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes! “I refuse all certainties, and yet I still believe. I may be right, but then again, I may be wrong.” — something I just wrote. I love exploring new ways of thinking of things. For me, thinking of it as being everyone, it helped me forgive what I didn’t think was possible to forgive. I definitely make no claims on the rightness or true-ness of it, only the possibility. =) ♥.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. With a box of tissue beside me, as I knew from the very start of your piece, that plenty of tissues would be needed, it’s been a teary few days for me. Your brave poem is powerful and revealing, and dear Jane I was so relieved to read that “I am well”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chuck away the tissues darlin’, I ain’t dead yet 😀

      Seriously, it’s all in the past. I did my anger, hatred and grieving a long time ago. This poem isn’t about me – although it happened to me. We’ve all had bad stuff. I have no reason to believe that mine was worse than yours, or anybody’s. Ultimately, this poem is about survival, self-forgiveness and recovery.
      It’s another way of saying “This too shall pass.” That was my mantra when Laura and Paul were going through active addiction. It helped a lot… and it DID pass. If it hadn’t, I don’t think I’d have written those words “I am well.” xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Seriously Jane, your been a brave lady, and I admire your remarkable courage and attitude, and I’m glad you’re well, and I’m happy that you ❤️ are a dear friend of mine, I always love our chats xx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure I can adequately express my thoughts about this poem, Jane. It’s so honest, it’s brutal. It’s so dark, it’s a night unto itself. It immediately raises my psychological defenses in alarm — my defenses against breaking down, crying my heart out until there’s nothing left to come out. It’s nearly torture to read it, and for that reason — if for no other – it forces me to suffer in some small, remote way as you must have suffered.

    The only poem I’ve written on this topic is “Gabrielle, Gentle Gabrielle”. Please take a look at if you will, let me know what you think. Does it capture even a tenth of what you capture? Does it ring true?

    Over my life I have had several friends who were sexually assaulted as children, and their voices, your voice here, is now all too well known to me: I have learned outrages committed against children are outrages against all who ever — ever — come to love them as persons.

    Your honesty is so needed in this world. So much a focused light on a problem that is most likely an epidemic, but denied to be one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t want to give a false impression. It’s all history. I expect it’s the cause behind my decision, finally, to live alone, but I’m happy – happier than I’ve been for a long time.


    1. I’ve just read your poem. When I write about abuse, I can separate myself from it. It no longer hurts me, but your poem tore me apart. Gabrielle was too broken to keep living. I wasn’t. My family loved me. They nurtured me. Hers didn’t, and that makes me angry and sad. It’s for people like her that I wrote this poem. It’s everywhere, all over the world and it always has been. It could be happening round the corner and I want it to fucking stop.

      I’m back to ranting and deleting…


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