by J. Steele
My white veil hanging over the gate of the house
where I was led and laid at 14, stupefied
by someone fair-skinned, blue-eyed, smelling of fairy-floss,
someone my mother sent me out with to get me away
from the brown-eyed dark-skinned boy she disapproved of.
Red blood on my new blue-and-white striped pants. I lay obedient,
as I had been taught 7 years before by someone else my mother thought
was wonderful. Oh don’t mistake me. She didn’t “know” in either case,
but always “knew best” she believed, and I hate her for it
more than I hate the men.
My white intoxication, swooning joy, scent of heaven,
surf of seas ridden together. My illicit lover, years later,
so different this time. I no longer still or silent
but swept away by sense sharp and sweet, jasmine,
how could I love it now?
One thing about you the same as him,
that smell of fairy-floss.
My first year back down south after 20 years in the tropics
after sere summer, grey winter, after rain a gift
of winter jasmine over fences and gates.
Suddenly I’m floating in a dazed dream of sweetness.
But after all, that was last century.
I pick up my pen.
The grandfather chopped off the chook’s head.
The chook’s fat body ran around the child
who stared at the chook’s flat head in the dust.
The chook’s eye stared at the sky.
The mother cleaned out the chook’s insides
Her hands were covered in yellow slime
as she said to the child “You used to be in me
Their stupid clucking, ridiculous strutting,
ugly raw feet and sly eyes. The child thinks
adults are foul.
Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry has appeared in Northern Territory and South Australian publications including Northern Perspective, Northerly, Dymocks Northern Territory Literary Awards, Friendly Street Poets. Poetry or prose has appeared on websites including The Animist, Four and Twenty, Islet Online (as Dita West), In other Words:Merida .