Tag Archives: looking back

Cold Where Women Are Wet

Written for the Sandbox Writing Challenge 2018 – Exercise 25

girl-in-trash

“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
splintered
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

Being There

week-38.jpg

It is a collage this week. Writers will connect to it easily.

challenge-38.jpg

So, let the fingers align to imagination, and bang on the keyboard. The format can be a a story/poem/rant/anecdotes/journalistic coverage of events/ reflections as usual.
Pour out, and let it flow ….


Flipping in long grass,
skipping, leap-frogging, cartwheeling over stiles,
feet so fleet it feels like flying,
flopping to sit cross-legged on fragrant nature’s floor.
Grass stained shorts. Grubby fingernails
cut careful slits through slim daisy stems.
Threading, making chains to dangle from supple neck.
Carefree sunshine and family love.

Once, this was me.

Breasts swelling, bursting
from a shock-horror bra, hips curving,
and worse, a monthly sticky thing that hurts,
which Grandma calls the curse.
Father stealing small licks to assuage the tip
of his hunger.
Mother loving, supporting
this poor little changeling.

Feeling dirty. filthy images of hot flesh slapping,
moist organs fitting,
slipping wetly together. Precocious hormones
that battle against desire,
hermaphrodite side crying “Let me
be a child”,
yet all the while learning the wanton game.

A teen with a siren’s face,
miming like a pro. Anything goes,
as long as it excludes loosening her clothes.
No sense of danger, blindly embracing
masked neighbour that ambles her way.

Rape and beatings, beatings and rape.
burst head, bleeding flesh, blurred vision,
cigarette burns, fractured limbs, bruises
that cannot be hidden. Torn wings
of a butterfly, entrenched in threats
that he may fulfil.
“I will kill”, he says.
“I will
kill
your family,
I will kill them if you hide from me.”

Weeping admission. Gentle assistance.
A groggy leap from the sizzling grill, only to slip
into spinning with trolls, a racy dance of ring-a-ring-o’-roses,
taking risks to prove she’s ahead of the game,
trying to hide her confusion and pain,
all of it fake, played out in vain.

Atishoo, atishoo,
she’s falling again.

Learning to stand,
wooing and wedding a kindly man,
only to fling him away.
To add to mistakes and shame,
the new man she catches, rapes her brain.
Years of fighting to gain control,
while the monster hints that she’s going insane
tripping and falling and failing again. Flailing.

An ill-planned, yet helpful escape.

Too late, she examines the damage.
Trailing her feet along a rough cloister, wrought
from life’s ill-conceived choices.
To the right, bright window panes reveal smiling faces.
Hands wave. She stretches her arms,
but can’t reach.
To her left, dust, rubble, crumbling walls.
Jagged scraps from her womb bear witness to her weakness, grimacing
as they juggle with jesters and thieves,
screeching to be healed.

A mouth opens.
A silent scream struggles out, to ricochet
off the ceiling. She swallows it in one.
It crushes her lungs.

“Please let me breathe.”

Rising up. Her children will not
be defeated by their demons.
Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes…

This, too, was me.

A lone woman,
wizened by a boxed-up heap of experience,
sits in a high backed chair,
watching trees. The leaves expand into a screen
which conceals iniquity.
From her position, she can see
a clean horizon, distant meadows, whirling angels
that create sustainable energy, life-giving earth,
acres of sky.
Sometimes it rains,
but the sun soon breaks through.
When tears threaten, she strokes the jagged splits
that ripped deep through her skin, and feels
smooth silver strings weld and heal.
She is satisfied.
At night, she catches her reflection in the glass.
The allure that shaped her darker days
has faded with age.
Now, she is beautiful.

This woman is me.

.

Any life which stretches to reasonable longevity is like a massive chunk of quartz, cut from rock. Depending on the angle and brightness of the light, and on where you are standing, different facets can are visible. Also, the viewer approaches the quartz with his own pre-conceptions, interests and focus to detail. Furthermore, our aspects can change over time – even in the blink of an eye. This is one story of my life,  but – apart from the closing stanza – I displayed it from the dark side of the moon. I have many happy memories.

… an afterthought; reading through this longwinded poem, I learnt a horrifying new fact about my past – a detail that was staring me in the face, and yet I didn’t see it. While it won’t harm my emotions too much, I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it, but I mention it because, even viewed through the muddiest of lights, its still possible to spot new facets

Thanks go to Reena, for the inspiration.
©Jane Paterson