After ‘Bread and Butter’ by Jo Roach.
I come from women called Ann, Doris, Annie,
warm hearts, strong souls, the spirit of adventure,
watercolours, stories, and flowers,
a longing to paint before I get old,
from a happy family grinning out
when Bobby Stokes scored his goal.
I come from Tom playing cricket
(I’m wickie again),
a game of football
(I’m the goalie),
but then he played dolls with me
(or so he says).
I come from the strength of women,
owners of hearts and minds and love.
I come from land strewn with flowers.
I come from girls with a future.
I come from the burnt witches.
I come from women married to men
who let their girls grow.
I married into men’s names,
tea on time, ironing, please can I spend 10p,
sexual coercion, “no I don’t like that”,
a longing to be good enough,
to be little Lily dancing for Jack
in the garden of safety and security.
I married into loony bins and silent sickness,
repression, DV, prescription tabs.
I married into “no that hurts”,
“you’re frigid”, “we won’t discuss it”,
a tear in the darkness,
a life without love.
I married into the slavery of women,
restricted hobbies and lost dreams.
I married into selfishness.
I married into girls with no meaning.
I married into the lives of the living martyrs.
I come from being married to men
who didn’t deserve me.