It was 1980.
I was writer-in-residence at a university.
I had booked a meeting room
for the first reading of a play.
But three young men were dug in
deep with each other.
I became stiff and shrill.
— ‘Did you book this room?
I booked this room!’ —
They glanced at each other,
they gathered their materials together,
— their ‘seminal’ texts re ‘the woman question’ —
they folded their hands and they stood.
Tears leapt out of my eyes like crazy diamonds.
I held my chin with the palm of one hand
so I wouldn’t judder.
Like, I can’t judder.
I am the writer-in-residence.
And tears leapt out of their eyes too,
the young crew of woken men,
as they walked
out into the bright air of a new world.
I often think of them, still.
On the Monday I miscarried.
On Wednesday my father died.
I had flown in.
I was sitting at the dining room table
on the Friday
telling my mother I was out of money
and the phone rang.
I had won a playwriting competition.
I was in the money.
Her eyes shone. My mother.
(Her magical child.)
(But it wasn’t stupid money.
I have never won stupid money.
I would imagine that would
half ruin you,
stupid money would.)
It was 1975.
My first play. My first director.
I had written myself up and out
of everything. Of everything.
He was coming round to finesse
my play, my first play.
He threw me onto the floor.
I squeaked. I made a little squeak.
He spread himself on top of me.
Grinding and grinning.
He said — ‘I love the feeling
of your breasts against my chest.’ —
And I went off my head!
It went blue, it went white, kaleidoscope.
I ran in circles, limping and panting
and although I thought I was screaming,
I felt I was screaming, I probably wasn’t.
It was 1983.
I was strolling my big belly
around my home town.
I thought I might as well
pop into the bank
and pick up an entry form
for the short story comp.
As the teller handed it to me
she asked with a pregnant smile
— ‘Is it for your husband?’ —
I didn’t shout — ‘Three years ago
I won the bloody thing!’ —
No. I shuffled my big belly
back out onto the street.
Surely it is very bad for a child
to feel such blind resentment
hammering their mother’s heart.
I could go on. And on. And on.
I could go on and on and on.
And I will. But not just now.
Now I will sit still. Like this.