Daily Archives: August 5, 2018

Barra Lass, by Olivia Tuck

I am not a silent poet

In memory of Eilidh Macleod

A doll’s house aeroplane brought you home. It fell
like an osprey above the ocean’s painful lights.
You could not feel
tiny whirlpools in your ears
or the wind rocking your winged cradle
when wheels touched the coldness
of a hollow bay. The sky
was body mist in a school corridor:
they lifted you,
your spun sugar hair behind wood,
inside cloth, under bairns’ flowers.

Our sun watched from her steely thread. She cried,
traumatised – she had witnessed
what no star should ever see.
Gravity summoned the tears
onto Hebridean rocks,
where they formed indelible shadows, dark
as a night (built with music,
photographs, heart-eyed faces)
turned to smoke. To rubble.

If only the piper could have given you his breath.
Barely heavier than sea glass,
you were carried on shipwrecked hands
while he exhaled goodbye,
goodbye, goodbye;
the sand beneath you whiter

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W T Stead, by Natalie Scott

I am not a silent poet

Editor of Pall Mall Gazette and campaigner for equality
Guilty of abduction – sentenced to two months, 1885

Our laws state that a girl of thirteen
is at the age of consent, and yet she is
not old enough to give witness in court.
My crime? Caring too much. I wanted
exposure, so I bought a girl and sold her.
Her parents accepted a slim price
and the brothel madam paid a slim price.
Deal done. Evidence acquired.

Our current laws don’t protect those
who make it their calling to pull back
the stained bed-covers of crime.
I was charged with abduction because
her parents could not fathom
how they could have done such a thing,
so pretended they hadn’t. Deny
all knowledge. Safest bet.

Our laws gave me time in Holloway. Not
so much a punishment as a treat. A
pleasant holiday in an enchanted castle. I
had a…

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Barbara Roads, by Natalie Scott

I am not a silent poet

Guilty of conscientious objection
– sentenced to one month, 1943

You ask me why I choose
to do this, choose
to refuse my war duties
by not signing up with the warden,
choose to challenge the system,
choose to be pregnant in prison?

You think it’s easy enough
to sign up for something
you don’t believe in
just because it’s the done thing.
Scratch you name on
someone else’s skin.

Do these women choose
to be pregnant in prison?
Choose to eat for two
on extra milk and bread?
Choose solitary confinement
until the baby’s due
because the hospital’s full?
Choose a cell bell that’s dull
or no one’s there to hear it,
or no one who hears it cares
enough, and no one comes?
Choose to give birth alone?
Does any woman choose that?
Can’t you see she was at the
crippled ends of her wits?

I choose to…

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Ruth Borchard, by Natalie Scott

I am not a silent poet

Refugee of Nazi oppression, detained
for 6 weeks as an ‘enemy alien’, 1940

Alien: noun: a foreigner – synonyms:
non-native, immigrant, emigrant,
emigre, incomer, outsider, stranger,
newcomer, visitor.
I like visitor.
Yes. I could be your guest. I have
travelled here to escape.
The journey was long and tiring.
I won’t be in your way forever
but while I am you could help.
It won’t cost you much to do so.
Be the gentile, genial host.
Go on, invite me to tea if you dare.
I’m a newcomer, show me the ropes.

Get to know me
and I’m no longer a stranger.
Welcome me
and I’m no longer a foreigner.

Enemy: noun: actively opposed
or hostile to someone or something.
A thing that harms or weakens
something else.
I am the antonym.
Co-operative in all this chaos.
Calmly waiting in my cell.
Waiting for the real enemies

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