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Womens poems

Nun's Tale

Metal swung in counting time. You could always hear the metronome, given enough quiet time. The beat played out there in the ordinary movement - A swish of heavy cloth or footsteps along a corridor. The quickening pace raised to ageing steps each time-boards’ creak on sprung wood sighed individually according to each suffered weight... We calculated her steps - counted in her coming. Her Rosary so prayerfully hung swung in beaded regularity at the uphill climb and I wondered was it enough - That Christian struggle? The lone burden and sanctified life in the slog of tedious motion...                    © Mary T Duggan

Pre partum - Post partum

I remember the slow progress over uneven snowy road stopping at times When I became too punctured by the pain Screaming again and again “Get it out of me!” And never the same, though I tried ‘letting go.’ And few explain that torturous cruelty ahead of you in that miracle of birth - Thighs shackled. Split like a divider - Legs akimbo, quivering from the lack of blood flow. And you? You do your best in this distress to focus on a halo of light Your eyes like the martyr lifted in flight - Breathless, even with breathing techniques as you beg to hunker down but the missionary forced on you Steel paddles plough into you as your carcass is cranked further apart and you spit out, “For Christ’s sake !” Yes, I remember the day I disappeared The clock stopped on the wall as they shouted their obscenities to “Push”! The Judas eyes avoiding me as the creature slapped out on me, slipped like silk on my skin. The first curdling wail blushing the air but all mystery drained from me as the sear of a surgical scallop sewed the uneven rack of my ripped flesh back ... © Mary T Duggan


Thistle is my country - Bountiful and wild. A jut of buttresses stand proud before crevice to cave A country I choose, to share or explore : Desert dry zone; Wet zone; Flood plain… That true North, of under-discovered terrain - Tufted reeds ; Fossilised Lichen ; Ridge, etched within the grasslands; stretch… Carn Goedog ! Blue Dolerite !... My landscape © Mary T Duggan

The Scullery Maid’s Monologue: A Woman's Worth

I heard the master say in his ‘La-di-dah’ voice “Nowhere’s safe from this purple, white and green brigade who demand their equality!” As he read out loud how a rowdy crowd caused a lively scene at Palmers Green. When men threw flour and eggs at them Suffragettes!* And how that Mr Goulden and a Mr Prout were roughed up and routed out...Chased by lads on bicycles from ‘The Triangle’ right down to The Fox taverns’ tram! And Gawd bless us if a woman wasn’t manhandled and her pamphlet torn up too! Then the mistress gives the master an awful earful at how the meek wife and Suffragist mother are forced to crime because Asquith’s government who refuse women the vote! She says his nibs “ ...must not come home until you’ve spoken out in Parliament!” And being the progressive lady says how she differs from the late queen who thought all Suffragettes were hateful heathens who’d perish without a man’s protectiveness. That 1914 is the modern age where women will prove their effectiveness against the tyranny attitude that politics is a male preserve and domesticity deservedly feminine - though all agreed that in society a woman’s worth only improves when men go to the battlefield! Then she tells of brave Mrs. Mary Clarke. Youngest of that Pankhurst family who, force fed, ‘up an’ died the week she was freed from Holloway. And rests now poor ducks, in our Southgate cemetery! “Why only last year,” The mistress says, “Young Emily Davison was force fed, forty nine times!” - Forty nine times before she threw herself under the king’s horse! And now this talk that the fighting men will get the vote but we women won’t ! Now if I could, I would join the ‘sisterhood’ but war needs me loyalty. So I’ll build me scrub muscles up - Ready to fight like Boudicca in deeds not words for this female plight and listen to Cook’s good advice: To teach our boys better - To change the law’s letter And one day, have our say. Hear that swish and sway of skirt all the way to Parliament © Mary T Duggan

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