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Between These Shores

Shores Remembered~Poetry & Stories of Women's Experience

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The following poems express woman's varying roles and relationships, placing strong emphasis upon self image.  All ages of women are depicted here, from birth to old age.  Woman's experience with family, career, love, need, passion mortality and her relationships with other women, are only some of the facets depicted and which remain unchanged throughout time
 
Here too, may be found links to women's short stories and satirical commentary, Between These Shores International Poetry Competition & E-zine, as well as various women's literary websites.

Poetry of Women's Experience
 
 

Seasons
 
When I was twenty,
streets rose to meet my feet,
branches lowered blossoms
for my touch and
unbeckoned winds pushed me
forward without destination.
I had much to say for
the seasons of love and passion
and the reasons for calamity;
so much to be reckoned
when dealing with quests
and adversity

When I was thirty, I found
my way by lamplight wisdom.
Tasteful decor was the key.
Seasons meant warmer clothing,
good wine with dinner,
a love affair with comfort
and time, after all, time.

When I was forty, I rode a bike,
cropped my hair and
wore my jeans in threads,
while contemplating what had become
of unbeckoned winds and
love affairs with comfort.

Now I am fifty.
Winds chill me.
Branches stretch higher their fragrant swell.
Lamplight wisdom gives way to forgetfulness
and I wonder if tasteful decor is worth
the dusting. Love affairs
are seldom, if ever comfortable
and the only season left
is time allowed.

Maps and Lockets and Imaging Your Face

Could I but touch the silken lines of your face once more,
drawn in pastel, sunset rivers, across the definitive horizon
of your eyes,

I would, Braille reading , quench my thirst for recollection
in a mind map, double and triple folded; compressed for safety
in gentle, muted chambers, ready to open

on any occasion, when the treacherous loss of touch and
liquid melody of sound are far beyond my feeble conception.
An ocean's depth between us,

of bureaucratic suits and soulless uniforms, regulations and
political agenda, of paperwork decisions stronger than walls and bars,
with no aim, but to distance.

I would keep you, if I could, like a locket, close to my breast, warmed by
it's gold and heartened by it's presence; never allowing hands to
wrench you from me.

Yet even if, as a map or a locket, you might be taken from me, my own
cunning deception would quell the pain of loss; there are always maps to be found
and lockets to be had.

But flesh is not so easily replaced, nor do maps or pictures touch my heart
or fill the space, in a magnitude of miles and time,
left by the absence of your face.

Greyhound From Portland
 
Night retreats, in the pursuit of happiness;
two am and three hours 'til departure,
leaving Longfellow Square a half day behind,
in taxi clarity of blue-gray stone
and trashy autumn's tawdry orange.
 
Outside the terminal,
fallen road angels cluster for a smoke;
bards of the highway,
telling tales of who 'did 'em wrong'.
Listing boats without anchor,
foraging friendliness
in the absolution of strangers.
 
Hungry eyes snare the small child,
as she skips the dirty tiles of the station,
waiting for her folded dollar treasure
to slip through her fingers,
plunging chum to the waiting shark.
 
'Have ya got some change, Mizzes?'
'D' ya got a smoke?'
 
Too old to turn away without feeling,
too same to share what I need;
I take my coffee as inhalation
from the coach driver's cup
and smoke my last cigarette.
 

Her Longest Summer
 
She always knew
when it would rain,
especially in summer.
'See! Trees blowin' t' the water.
They always blow downhill,
to the bay, when the rain is comin''.

Such wisdom, from a red-knuckled seer,
who wrung sheets as taught
as fishing ropes; raw fingers burned
with bleach, but for my comfort,
I never heard complaint,
never saw a tear.

Blinding me with the steam
of soups and sauces so rich,
I never knew we were poor,
I never feared to sleep
because she woke me with cheer;
an orange crate cradle,
waiting in
 the coal stoves' shadow,
a doll stitched from an old sock,
a car with a shoebox chassis  
and a string to steer.
I had no dread of dreams.

Performing surgeries
in the steam of boiling wash,
the smell of her homemade
lye soap clinging to her hands,
she sewed bright buttons,
reassuring me there was no pain,
as she gave my Teddy new eyes.

When she found the lump
the summer drew to a close;
old wives tales of the knife
strengthened her resolve.
She tucked a hanky across
her breast and waited for
the summer to go on forever.

At the peak of it all,
she raved and said I'd done it;
had kicked her with my small,
hard baby shoes, long ago.
Easier to blame one she could see,
than an invisible beast.

When she died in the charity ward,
by the dim light of the nurse's torch,
the other patients wept behind
yellowed curtains, waiting for
their seasons' end.
It was then I knew
what terrors lie in dreams.

The Dressing Table

He drew his palm slowly across the smooth pine of his gift to me. Caressingly. Proud of his acquisition. "You know", he said, "I'd been thinking of completeing the bedroom suit with this, anyway".

Anyway. How telling. How immensely enlightening, the use of one small word. Anyway. As in saying, if I weren't here he would have chosen it, anyway. Or more, if he no longer wanted me, he would still have use for the dressing table, anyway.

If it weren't filled with my things, smelling of my scent and his, clustered with my colognes and figurines, laced with my coasters,  beads and glass; if my face didn't facet it's three mirrors, shining with the trust of a child, he would still find need for it's vacant gleam, anyway.

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East Side Birds

She was the banded dove, all pristine feathers; effervescently cooing at just the right times,
perched demurely where everyone could see, in the rooms where wiser birds, of lesser plumage,
craned necks for crumbs of approval and suffered rejected heads to shyly lower to their breasts.

So I remembered her, when she sprang, awkwardly flapping, from a doorway in the rain. The years had stained her
smashing feathers with city soil and deepened her cooing to a throaty whisper, soaked in smoke and drink.
True to the end, she eyed me with contempt, prattling on about friends and escapades of which I'd had no part.

Working her twine-like arms across her pigeon chest, the rain drip, dripping from her nose,
'Well, I hope we see each other again' she cawed, before I raised my gleaming, black crow feathers, and
proudly soared a triumphant retreat, to the heavens of redeemed girls, who'd finally gained their wings.

Photograph At Aberdaron
 
 
Closing my eyes,
I can see the day you took
the photo, which now sits atop
an oaken chest in my office;
black and white barely
doing justice to the tufts of
golden gorse and heart-red heather
surrounding the brilliant stuccoed walls;

a gleaming backdrop to my smiling image,
as I stand at the gate, hair rising,
skirt blowing to a crest. I remember each
detail, as the fog of din and drudgery
have yet to mute the edges of my memory,
and I cling to this;

that when time's insidious touch
erodes the vision and leaves a watered canvass
where the vibrance of facet once shone,
when all else fails, I can still embrace it
as a whole, living it within me, feeling it always;

a warming coal fire in a Welsh seaside cottage,
embers glowing at day's end, dancing to
tuneless rhythms, in a room with no radio,
only the whispered music of two syncopated souls,

swaying to laughter, too free to be feared,
too soft to be missed and the taste of
lager leaving laughter on pouted lips; simple
smiles in the comforting darkness of dreams,
a touch of fleeting tenderness, of fingers, face and form.

My failure to see the picture will change nothing.
It shall always be what it was;
a lifetime search, to be had and held
for a moment, a marriage of souls
for a fortnight, an imprint of a journey's end.

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Johnny Nextdoor
 
He was two hands, brown as earth,
clutching the top of a wobbling, wooden fence
between our yards. Two eyes, marble-black,
meeting my green ones; gleefully gazing,
curiously keening above the splintered
edge of eternal division,

as I teetered and tipped upon an
old milk-box, toes straining skyward,
for added height. I never knew the
mystery of his name, but called him
Johnny Nextdoor and each morning,
when we'd been scrubbed, we met like
midget conspirators, at the dingy, derelict fence.

His mother spoke strange, singsong
words when she smiled at me through open,
uncurtained windows, where the heavy garlic
scent of foreign dinners played with my
wiggling nose; tantalizing my tummy.
Mother told me many times,
"Their food is bound to make you sick.
Just say, 'No, Thank You'".
I always did what I was told.

One day, to our great delight, he showed me
the remarkable, sensational snap,
which elastic makes when
stretching the waistband of his trousers!
He stood as high as he could for me to reach
and snap; the sound cracking like a whip in
the quiet of the yard.

Delightful, it was and we laughed so hard,
I never heard the rushing whoosh of
slippered feet, before I was whisked away
by angry arms, my milk box flying away
beneath me, it's crash culminating
in a shout, as Mother told him he was
'a dirty little boy' and he 'should never speak'
with me again.

I was put down for a nap,
not knowing what I'd done.
I supposed it was a dirty thing
to snap someone's trousers.
But how was I to know?
I shuddered myself to slumber.

When I woke to whispers and frowns,
Mother placed a bowl of soup before me,
and silently stroked me like a hen,
and I wondered, knowing the only eyes
to look back at me now would be my own,
if my guilty hands would ever hold a spoon again.

Sleeping In

Rolling to a waking fumble on
Sunday-rumpled sheets; news,
fallen like tapestries; mystic-horned
unicorn folds, spread among
wine goblets and nibbled berries.


Warm skin blankets
catch old-love scent;
causing folded thighs and thirsting lips to part,
before another wave of ambitious lust
opens our eyes.

Forward in time,
and backward in glance,
momentum taking spiritual access
to physical divinity; a sullen uptake
to a blaring crescendo

as sweat,
quivering like diamonds,
trickles in rivulets;
interchangeable with the
stream of freshly poured wine.

Walking Dead In The Land Of Plenty
 
Manhattan sparkles
in winter's frost,
while the ferry docks between
smooth bleached pilings,
a lover dipped between
languid thighs,
spraying briny gushes
of relief and releasing
it's seed to an earthen womb.
 
The homeless board in droves,
an endless ride on the river Styx;
escaping the sneers of commuters,
they shuffle to the lower birth for
warmth and sleep on wooden benches,
thick with inefficient paint;
a sweetheart's initials and
rude etchings of fifty years still show
them the pattern of their pillow.
 
Breathing the breaths of many
for heat, collars raised to their hats,
with one eye open to keep shoes
upon their feet, while others hunt,
grubbing cigarette stubs,
diving like gulls in rubbish bins
for redeemable scraps.
 
Twenty minutes of silence,
save the gush of waves,
the steady lash of sleet
upon the portholes
and the humming motors;
life-song of a fleeting nomad,
legacy of those destined
for Potters Field.
 
Dreamscapes shatter with
the tap of a copper's stick,
missing the bench,
it raps the closest feet.
Docking, the Israelites
descend the ramp
to the land of Staten,
and await the manna
distributed nightly in brown bags,
from the Gods of City Hall.

 
Christmas Morning
 
Rolling, grey sky of winter descends from moorish peaks,
onto the sleeping terraced houses of Sheffield;
pushing misted, wraith fingers beneath snugly, steadfast windows
and working chilled awakenings with whispered drafts.

Eyes open to a new morning, finding solace in snowflakes
beyond the glass; a testimony of time, clinging
with disguised desperation, joining frost tips to impassioned panes,
with plaintive tenacity,

no more tangible than unrequited desire.
Christmas sky dawns on the warmth of couples, giving gifts
of lust and love 'neath a tree of plenty. Unwrapping the clarity
of future surrealisms; ribboning extremes and tissued nevers,

but too warm from word-filled winds,
behind shuttered windows, to notice chilled fingers,
thawing between hefty mugs of tea; chapped, by
passages of promises and timeless, crystal amenities.

Gazing upon a sea of grey, this winter morning offers no less frost,
than the coming of a new year, when parting leaves the soul
to cherish even the chill of a winter embrace. Winter
holds no fear of death, while there are arms to enfold.

Soul Song
       (For Phil)
 
Life's Song brings
us together
like dancing chords,
weaving beyond touch,
playing lonely
as a background
tone,
striking mellow pleasure
and tragic,
triumphant crescendos.
Till by chance,
the splendid weave
connects two sounds,
to form a perfect harmony
from almost muted achievement.
A lasting,
resonant note
of
one.

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Traces
 
I always watch you,
loving the glass pool;
never draining the
deep well of self love.

I can turn bleak in an instant,
just waiting for your touch;
your look of approval, which
only radiates warmth when
you see your own reflection.

I always watch you,
as I scour,
on hands and knees,
catching the glint of
soapy puddles,
expanding reason;
light refracting loss,
in swirling eddies.

I canvass
the expanse of terra,
where your feet purged me
from denial. Once, I could
dream a merry future
from a bruise;
turn a slap into
a brilliant tomorrow.

But there is no blood to
forward the delusion,
only stains to remove,
before my epiphany
becomes public,
my cleansing complete.

I always watch you.
You towel dry, all traces of
guesswork gone;
fibres and filaments
washed down the drain.

Aromas of Seventh Avenue
and blonde highlights,
a trickle on the tiles,
a vapour on the glass
of the medicine chest.

All thought of indiscretion
vanished, but one finite card,
falling from your wallet,
like a beacon.

I look,

I see,

and now, you watch me,

as I wipe it quickly away
with my broom, as silently as
I wipe the steam
from the glass.
A moment's denial,
before we embrace.

Changes
 
 
Another full moon,
another cycle closer
to fond farewells of
hot flushes and bloated ankles.

Another quarter of
packing and sealing-tape
and tying tags to
precious packages;
dropping off shopping bags of old
clothes to charity shops. Good will
is last season's sizes.
 
 
A full moon of plenty settles
over the freshly budding trees
of Napanoch,
hanging like a paper lantern,
heavy with dew and
listing in the
lonely branches beyond the
lonely window eye of this
single room,

charged with the passion
of relinquishment;
tipping to a matron's roll,
while I sort the mail
of three months,
collecting a fine sheen of dust.

Suitcases stand on naked boards.
No downy covering here;
just flaking, aged wood,
waitingfor resurrection,
reflecting moonlight as
frosted wrapping.
And me, white as a beam,
charging at windmills
in the darkness,
donning my raiment
of reluctant farewells
and dipping a delicate ladle
to drink the stars
of another heaven.

I close my eyes to
the waving frost of a disk
beyond my touch,
it's maiden madness veiled
in the smoky haze of age,
my dreams allowing me refuge
when sleeping beneath
the flagrant flag of another land.

I close the shades upon the
faces of fantasies
and blanket my shoulders,
breasts and thighs
with celestial promise.
My feet alone, stand naked
in the last of the thinning beam.

Lasting...

...is the wasted time, which whispers of torture
and breathes hot illusion on the nape of the neck.

Perhaps, just one immeasurably long hand,
sweeping pollen-dusted seconds in tornado funnels;

or any clock, in any room, tick-tocking
wordy tread marks on infinite, cerebral beaches,

gloriously decorated with pleading bottles,
whose notes wait for release, to pour desperate,

impassioned requests, cries of eternal love; wrenching phrases,
hurled to the receptive, chilling sound of one hand clapping;

while parchment visions descend to sand and crystal merge;
shattering against the glass belly of a thunderous, whispering void;

questioning why rescue ships have never arrived,
while they waited and waited; lasting.

It isn't the cold chill of phantom promises,
but the warm breath of passionate reason, which brings

the eyes to wakeful redness, like disks of morning
summer sun and tips the scales of pain in favour of yearning.

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Departure Time
 
My eyes are an afterthought
of green steel beads,
tumbling in tearful torrents
to the open, empty cup of my hands,
nestling like the face of a conjoined twin,
staring and helpless,
without true form or focussed thought,
pulsing with the fractured gaze
of mad women and frightened deer.
Gasping a shuddered, yet tangible sigh,
I part my fingers and release them
to freefall desolation,
peering downward in the dust at my feet;
blind beings, overlooked and undone,
as I walk away,
feeling the sockets in my cheeks dry
against the burning wind
of your receding breath.

One Man's Garden

As simply as a sundial, standing
in a drift of sifting laburnum,
yellow shadow-stains stipple
my breasts, with candour.

My gentle, illicit walk yields
indecent winds, tantalising a
surf-spray of succulent stamens,
bursting possessive spores to
cling against my skin and

allowing my feet to swell
promiscuously, in a breadth
of grass; catching me fishtailed
and breathless, in green after
green wavelettes.

Breaching the hedges,
reaching for an opening,
I see the stigmata of
spiny nettles deepening
the bloody rift between
clenching palms and
absolute surrender.

But I continue to inhale the sweet
rush of poison, surrounded
by holly and hemlock hoards
encircling the single, simple truth;
that all the fearful nightshade,
the fortress green of this keep,

protects but one single rose;
delivering no solace,
quenching no tender root,
simply harbouring with choking envy,
the satin petals in their russet death.

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Prophesy
 
I pushed my wanton self
from my mother,
and gaped blindly
at the black backness
of my squinting eyelids,
while flattening
my massive tongue
against the bottom
of my mouth;
all the more room with which
to scream.

 

 
Golden Lotus
 
When I was young,
only phantoms stroked my hair
and brushed my lips
with forbidden whispers,
while obligation took the place
of laughter, lovers and tears,
 
when nightly,
surging wonders,
like incoming tides
at the Brooklyn piers,
took strangle-hold
of my timorous innocence.
Terrified, only now
can I allow myself
to wonder
why all the years of waiting
failed to question.
 
Oh Mother mine,
from what vintaged stock
did I spring,
that like a mayer,
tethered for stud,
you kept me hobbled
in ignorance,
but never bliss?
 
My tender flesh
and wizened soul 
bore no humiliation too great
to win your approval.
I think a kinder act indeed,
was never taken on your part
than when you died.
Your Golden Lotus.
My Gilded Cage.
A Nightingale,
for whom only you,
I'd sing.
Mother!
Did you
never see me dying
for your love?

Le Voyeur

(New Year In Greenpoint)

He swung out the window in one motion,
leaping, catching the red, fire escape trapeze,
a ballet stance, descending, precision-falling,
toes touching cement like an insect kiss.

Bounding, breathless,
through the back yards of Greenpoint,
beneath ghostly sheets and
frost-crisped jeans,
whipping helter-skelter ropes
above the laboured ignorance
of wives and wage earners.

He meets her, dark as a cat,
under the amber glare of a street light,
between adjacent streets,
her languid eyes having watched
his small, death-defying show,
she slowly skims the whole of him,
choosing where at first,
her hunger shall direct her.

Midnight, brings the
chiming of church bells
and the boom of fireworks,
while one hundred windows
rattling response,
yawn open to
the coming hour,
beaming lights on the
frozen scene below.

All this plays no part
in the soundless intrigue
of her wordless search,
and he is released by her
relentless exploration.
She licks the sheen of sweat
from his dancer's thigh and
sinks her teeth joyously
in the steaming warmth
of his exposed flesh,
and he, as from a Holy vision,
hears a hundred angel voices cry,
Happy New Year !

I Never Saw It Coming
 
 
Bird boned and
silky skinned,
I sat curled in her lap,
cheek tucked against
her free breast,

my book of Grim
precariously perched
against the other,
sucking my thumb
with deliberation,
swaddled in sweet stories.

Whatever darkly twisted Saints
paid reverence to my youth,
they lay shadowed in sunlight,
patiently awaiting their cue,

but for that time,
there was the succor of angels,
infrequent and quickly diminished tears,
pouting lips and tender touches.

There was the tangible truth always
offsetting the delightful deception.

Christmas Eve 1970

Hurry, I said, I'm freezing,
as the wind raked my cheeks with sleet,
coats whipping like wings.
The coffee shop on West 4th
sported a queue for a half block;
hung-over, freshman from NYU,
waiting for warm revival,
drinking dinner out of a cup.

Keep moving, I said,
snow melting on my lips as I spoke.
And the wind blew snow in sheets
and rattled my bones like anchor chains,
while we braced ourselves behind collars,
counting pennies in our pockets for
another cup, to stop the belly-rumbles.

Let's run, I shouted,
and we rushed the length of streets
and avenues, slicing between the flakes,
dividing the white like fish through a stream.

Quick, lets take a bench by the arch, I suggested,
rushing, breathlessly beneath Christmas illuminations.
In Washington Square, we talked of war and wisdom,
Mao and Lenin and Marx, and the dreaded unemployment line,
while a Salvation Army trumpeter blared good tidings
to the living and collected coins with which we dared not part,
not even for a poor child's Christmas.

Hurry, this way, I cried, the wind pulling my voice to a whine,
thin and icy as a jet stream.
We shared a bag of chestnuts with blue fingers,
and wondered how the steaks tasted in O' Henry's.
This Christmas Eve, we hid presents,
behind our P-coated backs and with
too much freedom, tore them open.

Hurry, hurry, I said, anxious to see your face.
You first !,  and my eyes, drawn to slits,
watered in the chill.
You pretended to like the pen.
I swore an oath to wear the pin.
Goodbyes then, until we meet again;
home to enlighten our parents, of that
which we thought they should be aware.

If I'd known next Christmas
you'd be a ribboned, medalled memory
of an evening in the snow,
would I have hurried so ?
Would I have ignored my trembling,
and relished winter's waste,
and stayed a bit longer,
stepping on your lengthening shadow,
reluctant to let it go ?

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Phantoms
 
Corners, like settees and dishes,
are nooks for memory shadows;
mysteries of time past.
One place setting,
one rumpled cushion;
a phantom vision,
filling vacuous crannies.
 
A wind song voice,
a hand's touch,
in the whispered blowing
of a curtain.
Rising each day to see a ghost,
sleeping each night with an illusion.
 
There once was a party of two
within these walls.
Now my steps are soft as a wraith,
no louder than the promise
left behind.

Tread Softly, Here Lies My Dream

                   (A Mother's Words)

He was just a lad.
He touched spider webs after rain
and cried when his puppy died.
I remember this scene,
as I part my curtains and watch,
reluctant to gaze upon revelry.
They're all feeling gay today,
those people in the streets.
Of course, they didn't know him.
To them, he was simply
another child.
Unshared responsibility.
Someone else's dream.

He played games,
up and down and inside-out
and he learned to go away
and never pouted.
Brave boy, stout,
marching in another's shadow.
Stretching his full height
to fill the void, pushing pride
to it's limits.

I wonder if someone might have said,
"Lad, you're a man now."
and rattled off a list of tattered cliches.
I wonder if someone might have said,
"This is how it's done.",
then showed him the way and issued his gun.
I wonder if that someone has a son.
Surely someone must have known,
as I do now, as certainly as
I still feel the pain of labour,
that he was faceless in the crowds;
slipping through rows of booted babies.
All blood being red, after all,
who would recall?

No smiling moon, sifting dream-dust
on sleeping cherub cheeks,
only another martyr
for the children's crusade.
Like home, when the lights went out
in a storm, he died in the dark.

I hear beyond the curtain,
voices like a stream,
the women on our street saying,
"He was such a lad!
Talking of pranks and silly annoyances,
hadn't they already decided
he'd never amount to much anyway?
Someone else's problem.
Someone else's dream.

They've packed him away
with their linen and doilies,
swallowed him in mincing bites
along with their social teas
and apricot brandy,
buried him in their rubbish bins
with yesterdays newspapers
and hung flags in their windows,
only God knows why,
and I watch him evaporate
like steam on a window glass,
while all his little dolls weep
for my lost dream.

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photo by a. c. geraghty

New York Irish
 
 
He said, one day, he'd go there,
placidly fingering pages on his desk,
appearing unmoved;
the boy from Manhattan,
now exiled to the coast of Maine.
 

Casting an eye at the closet,
warm and muted tomb
of his mother's ashes,
waiting twenty years to return
to a homeland sanctuary
she never found in New York,
he taps a rhythm upon his desk,
and makes the promise once again,
to send her soul homeward.
 
One day, when the time is right,
and the weekly check isn't
already spent, the hands
of an aging son will release her,
in clouds of free and painless glory;
his pilgrimage
to the Emerald Isle of
her unkept promises.

beau1.jpg

A Pound Of Flesh
 
Two months out of work with five hungry kids and a shattered knee;
hope was hard. The ad read; ‘Caregivers needed. Will train.
Excellent health a must.’ So I lied about my knee and got the job.

They stationed me in that part of town where railroad tracks
and empty barnish factories created Wyeth landscapes.
Two aids with pinched faces and late-night eyes met me at the door.

“She’s in here,” said one and turned a naked bulb to light the floor.
Five hundred pounds of flesh was she, my paralyzed patient,
imprisoned on a bold, bracketed bed; rubber sheets billowed beneath her.

Gangrene whipped us like dead things, in a shallow tide
and she slipped in her filth; a whale in an oil-slick, from side to side.
The other two scuttled like crabs, retreating toward the door

'til I snared them with a stare and a gunshot stamp upon the floor.
Reluctance spared, in favour of relinquishment, they worked.
It took all three of us to lift one leg as big as me, to clean what we could,

from beneath her folds of more and more, while trying not to look
into her sea-cow eyes or listen to her voice, too small for her body,
well knowing if I did, she would cease to be a job

and become a life, for which I’d feel.
My crumpled knee snapped and creaked,
making sounds of rotten planking, while

I sweated and pretended, straining to hold her up
and thinking the time would never come for me to leave.
When pay-day came, my babies laughed and

slapped their full bellies and licked their sticky fingers clean;
but I could not eat. No matter how hard I scrubbed, no scented oils or
sweet soap, would wash away the smell of her pain.

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Unrequited Dance
 
A frivolous dance, devoted to another,
you pass like minutes sliding into years.
Disappeared, just playing in the sea.
Would your final dancing be small
and just enough for a humming hundred
and will you never like my ballroom shoes?


Twentieth century dancing,
too final for slowly humming;
I, playing devoted ballroom minutes,
in the time of red shoes and slowly sliding;
the last and small of it all.
The orchestra mirrors toward
last century order.


Devoted to dance and drink, attention to
red buttons and frivolous shoes,
you slowly passed the orchestra,
never said 'No!' and disappeared toward
whatever last dance would be enough.

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The Sheffield Wife
 
 
There is a home in Sheffield where I have never been.
The floors are blonde wood, the walls outside are brick
and in the rooms of discontent the Sheffield wife
hears the sounds and smells the scent
of many years of marriage.

A woman whose face I've never seen,
whose name I do not know,
touches the sheets he sleeps on
and comments on his clothes;
shares worries for their children
and talks about the news,
while passing the rooms of discontent,
yet never says she'll go.

The man I dine with checks his watch
and says "It's time we go.
The hours are short before the dawn."
and the Sheffield wife waits home.
In Spring, the Sheffield wife
will have their garden trimmed,
so the man who calls me "Petal"
sends a snap of a tender rose
and tells me, once again
to "Wait just a bit more." for him.

In Summer, he and I will holiday by the sea,
but days, like hours before the dawn, are short.
Reservations end and he "Must mind the store!",
so in the end, the Sheffield wife will have the best of me.

In Autumn the letters will come
and one by one I'll read them,
knowing that in this scheme of things,
and all in all, I'll wait;
to hear his voice and feel his touch
and have him call me "Petal",
but I will never know
the sounds and scent the Sheffield wife knows,
of many years of marriage.

I dream the dream, which is all I may know.
"All being well," he says, "I'll see you then."
So on and on it goes, he leaves again.
Not a young lover,
but an older woman,
had behind closed doors,
feeling first time love,
living last chance affair,
what do I care
for the Sheffield wife,
in her halls of blond wood floors?
What do I know
of the sound and scent
of many years of marriage
or the garden trimmer's prize?
It's all to be, which in the end shall be
and this is all which I shall ever have.
Oh, it's all over for the rest of us,
but the Sheffield wife endures.

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The Other Woman
 
She was a replacement;
an item of equal means,
a feast of reason
and flow of soul, this one
younger than I, with degrees
to match his own.
All flattery and sympathetic ear,
knowing I was
just beyond a corner
for yet another year
and never a care that he
would come home to me,
until his choice was made.
Always ready to share,
was she, of the sympathetic ear
and sweet, flattering lies.
I, who boasted no
educational differential
nor fifteen year age difference,
my youth long passed;
she, still dewy enough
to face forty without a laugh.

I was held at bay,
just in case, the future partner
didn't quite withstand the
test of time and place,
but in the end, I'd be expendable,
all being well with her,
and my leaving would be
braced with his words
of broader partnerships;
of friendship, everlasting.
Because of what a strong woman I am,
I would always be special to him,
though obsolete; a once loved,
seaworthy vessel, now a leaking skiff.

Knowing all this,
I now embrace his final choice
to stay with me,
and let the replacement effort,
dewiness not being half
what it's made out to be,
remain a passing fancy.
So, holding his warm body at night,
hearing his words of love to me, safe
within the familiar contours
of time and space which is we;
the tangible, yet surreal, I wonder,
which part of it all
and certainly which words,
are the myth
and which ones the reality?

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Pleasure Withheld

I am the tamer,
choosing carefully
my whips and rods,
comporting menace in stealth
and boot kicking my objective.
Down, down the narrow
of the eye, I look and see
what?

Coming home
to my adversary,
I scrape the bloody sawdust
with my toe and
tease the Tiger's ears
with claws of my own.

I am not so vain
that I do not see the
labour of his recalcitrance,
when I am a withheld feast.

But this
is the nature of the beast.
I turn my quick defiance
upon the face of the crowd
and laugh
to hear the rumble
of frustration at
my back.

Sex On Stage
 
No questions asked.
That we have lain together matters little.
It stands to reason, does it not,
that we would have fallen by the wayside
with someone else, if not each other;
some other seer; a vestige of unreality?

Only half naked, are we;
too conscience stricken, gibberish-instilled,
to release a main objective. So we stumble
through the bushes, clad in embarrassed glances
and quick fingered meetings, before the light
of morning finds our much too childish sin.

Your fragment of soul I now own,
was, after all, taken by me; stolen
in my mightiest hour of selfishness,
and in so doing I have met
my supreme hour of selflessness.

Well then! The Act! Let's run through it, once again!
Let's take it from the top! Without promise,
without passion, without purpose, there is but one truth
between us; that I cannot wait for you, with
no questions asked.

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The Mistress
 
He said I was just the one
to give him what he needs;
the something missing from his life.
The solid sand,
the tangible breeze,
the liquid stone of his existence.

He said he couldn't leave me,
because I meant too much.
The burning snow,
the freezing flame,
the unknown factor.

He said I should stay with him
and take this one step further.
The deceptive truth,
the honest lie,
the always of never.

I said I would
and I was glass.
The clouded window,
the unhinged door,
the crumbling foundation.

I took the next turn
homeward to an exile
and became
the second choice,
the outside interest,
the bartered commonwealth.

Women's Stories & Satire
Use the individual links below to read listed short stories and satirical commentaries or go directly to  

Open Book, Spinning

Satirical Commentaries

Learning to laugh at dates from hell and the anxiety of re-entering the dating circuit.

An ironic depiction of women's expected roles, the freedom of self expression and
learning to be happy with our differences.

How to prepare for a High School reunion when the hair, the dress size and the career, just don't seem good enough.

Only a parent can know which toys are suitable for a child and which ones will drive a parent to the point of insanity.
 

If you think animals are simple, needy creatures, think again!

How to maintain one's sanity while parting with those things which can't be thrown away.

An absurd look at the frustrations of child-proof caps, clothing sizes and impossible-to-fit pantyhose.

Short Stories

A story of relinquishment and realization; of one woman's love affair in middle age, set in Sheffield, England.

The comic story of a somewhat Bohemian wedding in the seventies, complete with mafia mishaps, hit men, and a most memorable reception.

In post war Sheffield, on a working-class street in Walkley, a young girl learns a valuable lesson.

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York was hard, but not harder than one girl's realization of lost trust.

Women's Literary Links:

Long Story Short: A Women Writer's Showcase

Women's WW1 poetry and verse

Quality Women's Fiction Magazine

Honno~Welsh Women Writers

marcelalandres: Seeking Latino Women Writers

Women Poets At London's Cats Night Out

Virago: Publishers By And About Women

Isle of Lesbos

Satin Slippers

Women In Film: A Guide for Women in the Entertainment & Media Industries

Women's Search Engines:

Femina Web Search For Women

Dot Com Women

Excite Directory: Women

For questions and comments, or to arrange a presentational delivery for your group or society, please mailto:Britishpetal@aol.com

International Poetry Competition
& E-zine

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All works copyrited, including Between These Shores & Between These Shores International Poetry Comptition & E-zine & Just A Thought: Words On Women's Experience, and are the sole properties of A. C. Geraghty & P. C. Sidebottom, 2001, except where indicated.
 
Vintage sheet music & vintage postcards from the collections of A. C. Geraghty and P. C. Sidebottom

Golden Lotus
Awarded the US  National Women's History Award
for Excellence in Women's Related Poetry & Essay,
1987
A Very Brooklyn Wedding:
First published in HVLM~
Hudson Valley Literary Magazine,
Fall 2002
and presented on Radio Sheffield,
July 2004
A Pound Of Flesh:
First published in HVLM~
The Hudson Valley Literary Magazine,
Winter 2002/2003

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