Thursday, 5 January 2012

My Life as a Woman

What I am about to write is not the truth.

Once I was a woman. My family was prosperous, and I was passably pretty. Not the grist of poems; of no uncommon grace, and none of my constituent parts particularly well-shapen or remarkable. But I had what I had, and I knew its worth.

Most of what I had was a low cousin of insight. I knew how to appear susceptible, and how to be wanted. I had a genius for promising without pledging, for seeing without sensing, for living without giving. I had a keen eye for foible, and no gift for guilt.

And so I seldom lost. In all things, at all times, I had my right-now and my next-time. I'd spend one, then move to the other. Because I had choice, I was never without. Because I was never without, I felt no remorse. Because I felt no remorse, I never suspected.

I was desirable, playful, and powerful. Others were a means to an end. They were bursary, accessory, distraction. Men in particular I pressed like lemons, because they were lemons: pulpy, perishable, and worst of all, predictable. I had my next-time, and a knack for pretence. Those who loved me feigned ignorance, and so, I argued, gave leave. I played, and even believed, the victim. And I was careful to suppose no more.

I left a trail of them, like bread crumbs: the crumpled poems that were not, in the end, about me. And I was never alone.

What I have just written is not the truth.



(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson.)

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