DOCTOR

Your hands, Doctor,

healing hands that reassure

even with a cold touch, hands

that move my lips apart with latex

softness, a guerrilla in the jungle

parting leaves to spot the enemy.

Your hands, Doctor,

heavy hands that I remember as

your face remains veiled in smoke,

the hands that gave  me polio vaccine

like a secular Eucharist,  a pink blob on

a sugar lump placed gently on my tongue.

Your hands Doctor,

loving hands of my Doctor,

innocent of medicine but expert now in

my mature topography, hands that

probe my depths so that together

we may scale the heights.

ESSENTIALISING BULLSHIT

I suppose the story of Tara Hudson is old news now that she is serving her sentence in a women’s prison.  I am not going to say anything on what she did or about whether a brief custodial sentence was appropriate although some might think that prisons are overcrowded enough and that sentences like this are ultimately pointless. Neither will I say anything about the idiotic decision to send her to a male prison simply because she hasn’t gone through the hassle and expense  of obtaining a gender recognition certificate when prison regulations already allow transgender prisoners without certificates to be considered on a case by case basis, and particularly where prisoners have already embarked on the process of physical transition.

No, I want to talk about something else. You see, I took it as read that people, or thinking people at any rate, would consider the decision to transfer Tara to a women’s prison to be the correct one. Then I stumbled across a discussion on Twitter. I should perhaps have realised that some radical feminists would have a problem with this, as they seem to believe that   trans women are men pretending to be women to access women only spaces. The argument was that violent men who transition remain violent and by their continuing to commit acts of violence prove that they are still really men. Which, in effect is saying that committing violence is a man thing.

Men are perpetrators, women, if they are involved at all, are victims.  On this analysis men and women are essentially and fundamentally different ab ovo .  This assigning of behavioural characteristics on the basis of biological sex seems however strangely at odds with the usual radical feminist  claim that transgenderism is damaging precisely because the aim of feminism is the abolition of gender roles which transgender people reaffirm by their very transition. It is not clear how you can consistently argue that gender is a social construct at the same time as holding that certain types of behaviour are inherently linked to the genitals you were born with.  Not for the first time radical feminism appears mired in contradiction.

This all reminds me of a discussion I had in the bar during my student days. One student, a self proclaimed anti-feminist Marxist expressed forcefully his view that much contemporary feminism was “essentialising bullshit.” Reading some of these rad fem tweets about Tara Hudson it was hard not to agree.

Windmill

The day we visited the windmill
I began to wet the bed. My father’s
Creaking midnight tread pulsed
Shockwaves through my sleep:
I was back beneath the mill,
bewitched by its sails, heavy,
heavy with motion, four angels
of death stencilled on grey.

You laughed once at my phobias until
the night you came late to bed and your
fingers pulsed shockwaves through my sleep.
I woke and saw my terrible angels, screamed.
Then your body became motion, became
Warmth that entered me, like pulses
of life surging through the grey.

The Poetry Challenge

I recently started a poetry challenge with @CatEleven the Feminist Poet. The way this works is that we take in turns to pick a subject agree a deadline and then swap our draft poems and provide each other with critical feedback.  We’ve done two so far, ‘Wardrobe’ and ‘Doctor’,

I say challenge but I don’t see this as a competition. It’s not about which of us writes the ‘better’ poem. It is firstly a means of giving each other the discipline to write – if you’ve made a commitment to someone you need to do it, and secondly a way of giving each other support and encouragement. I have found the ‘challenge’ hugely rewarding.

My wardrobe poem is not quite ready yet but you can read Cat’s here

Here is my doctor poem:

DOCTOR

Your hands, Doctor,

healing hands that reassure

even with a cold touch, hands

that move my lips apart with latex

softness, a guerrilla in the jungle

parting leaves to spot the enemy.

Your hands, Doctor,

heavy hands that I remember as

your face remains veiled in smoke,

the hands that gave  me polio vaccine

like a secular Eucharist,  a pink blob on

a sugar lump placed gently on my tongue.

Your hands Doctor,

loving hands of my Doctor,

innocent of medicine but expert now in

my mature topography, hands that

probe my depths so that together

we may scale the heights.

Zodiac Signs

Dorothy reflected that, now that she was 72, people saw her as sexless. Yet she had been young once, she had been seen as a real catch, back in the 1950s when she lst her virginity on the back seat of a Ford Prefect,  when her boss regularly took girls from the typing pool on drives in the country in his Zodiac. Later, as a married woman, she had been something of a femme fatale, and had had a string of affairs  She had been a most desirable woman and still felt the need for the touch of a man. But who could she talk to about such things?

Then she met Claire, fifty years her junior, a girl who was fascinated by the fashions and music of the 1950s, a girl who loved sex as much as she had at the same age. They became good friends and Claire came to visit most Sundays to chat over home baked cakes and tea  She taught Claire to jive. The day that Claire came to show her her new car, a 1959 Ford Zodiac,  a lot of memories were awakened. Claire came roud a few days later.

‘I’ve written you a poem’ she said.

Dorothy took the hand written piece of paper and read.

ZODIAC

Zodiac, the sign
of someone else’s life.
This car was his, not mine,
maroon and grey with
whitewall tyres and a hood,
a bench seat where he sat proud.
behind a bonnet, sculpted chrome
and the throb of a straight six.
How he lived some distant summer
with the girls he drove home
from the dance, the pleasure
of each moonlit kiss, the tricks
of light, of time’s deceiving measure.

The car rusts on bricks.
The hood rots shred by shred.
Somewhere a woman remembers.
She nurtures her distant past
mines it for the youth to shed
the aching burden of the years.
What summers were hers!
She jived with the best,
much desired for the lips
she painted signal red,
the swing of her hips.

Copyright Eve Ray 2009