after June Jordan
'Is this the way death wins its way against all longing and redemptive thrust from grief?' – June Jordan
Chest rises and falls like memorised song verses
but all staccato,
the wailing begins here.
First-born of all tales is that woman’s womb is an offering basket,
God’s given mandate to multiply and go forth.
First-born of all tales.
Woman – finicky definition to produce an abundance of generations from self.
What a wielding power to covet.
Non-cancerous tumours they say.
Inflamed they say.
Ruptured above uterus detonated, they should say.
Three years only to wield your power they say.
Cut flesh, bruise flesh, burn flesh, failing body.
Chest rises and falls, breathing in descending arpeggio.
Time and I were companions,
are now shadows (tracing each other).
Head buried and reburied on each day,
Hope is scheming her return, knowing she is out-powered.
I feel Agony growing new head-legs in my pain buds,
I stop fighting (for space).
This poem was written as part of the Dead [Women] Poets Society tour 2019/20, funded by Arts Council England and first published by Dead [Women] Poets.
The poem was performed in the National Poetry Library on Wednesday 6 November 2019. Listen to the full recording: