quick like a rat, darkly cunning minx- with palpable wit
she sits in flames, burning
… passionately patient.
stalking in the shadows at night,
singing softly as she tweaks her mouse trap
‘I know where is an hind…
I know where is an hind…’
even in your hour of glory
wildly it grows that lioness courage
Resplendent in swathes in purple and lilac
satin and tulle;
swans in tinkering jewels
glittering fiercely over her smooth forehead
her ivory chest…
but alas, the sprog is deficient,
I say, it is lacking: it is female.
And covered with the very own Devil’s teats
that diseased femininity, malfunctioned
and lost her saviour.
Raging violently in her cage: the accused,
simultaneously, ‘Adulteress’ and ‘Never Legally Married’
on May Day ablaze in yellow silk,
The Queen of Love chimes: ‘Ainsi sera, groigne que groigne’
ainsi sera indeed,
Lady – to the block for the chop.
‘Lover’ is number two in a four-part themed poetry series I wrote inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s own first themed collection ‘The World’s Wife’. In it, she explores mythical, historical and literary stories traditionally positioned from the perspective of men, and spins a feminist tale to invite us into the women overshadowed by them. We meet ‘Mrs Darwin’ and ‘Queen Kong, as well as ‘The Devil’s Wife’ and ‘Little Red Cap’ (the young girl who’s grandmother is eaten by the wolf).
In this collection, unlike Duffy’s, the women (and especially in ‘Lover’) remain obscured behind the historical events that marked their fate in their marriage to the infamous woman-killer. The voice in ‘Lover’ looks at critical events from a huge distance, with sarcasm, with pity, and with an intensely critical eye. And is, of course, informed by gender theory.
Can you guess who is who in the series? Queen, Victim, Outcast.