To celebrate International Women’s Day, I want to share a poem I wrote to celebrate the resilience, capacity, creativity, wildness, and wisdom of women. Especially those of us who have faced abuse, oppression, violence, loss and trauma. Who have survived, overcome, risen, transcended. Who refuse to be caged, crushed, condemned, tainted or tamed.

I was inspired by the rich and beautiful art of Nancy Smith, in particular the figures Untamed and Like Air I Rise which you can find on her website http://nancysmithfineart.com/figures/

These reminded me of Maya Angelou’s brilliant poem And Still I Rise https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46446/still-i-rise

And my amazing companions in Survivors Voices, a survivor-led organisation changing the response to abuse and trauma, and the wonderful women, children and men that worked on our community mosaic “I Will Rise.”

This is dedicated to all women risers.

Touched, tainted, tortured
and still untamed
Groomed, gagged, gasping
and still untamed
Cracked, crushed, crazy
And still untamed
Ripped, ravaged, rotten
and still untamed.

As the tentacles of his passion bind her to his bed
She is climbing the creepers of a riotous rainforest.
As his knife carves the scars to mark her shaming
She is swinging through the canopy, chasing parakeets
He wipes his soiling on her like a rag
And still she rises
Binds her shame with courage and colour.
He strangles her songs, meddles her mind
And still she rises
Creating riffs to set the world dancing.
He raids her womb and grooms her children
And still she rises
Strong hips carrying over the mountain
Her anger weaves a sanctuary tent.

Oh the love songs she croons into their dreams
The softness of her arms as she gathers their hurts.
Her laughter breaks like surf as they tend the earth,
Bind the broken, plough justice from the soil
Oh the tall tales they tell gathered in the tent
Wood crackling the stove, a pot of chocolate warming.
Oh the juices running when they celebrate the harvest
The sweetness of honey cake, the smoky roasting corn
Her braids a wild and whirling ceilidh
Her dress the rippling colours of sunset on the water
Her heart a piñata bursting with soul sweets.
Like wild geese she leads them over oceans
Sliding down rainbows, hiding in the reefs.

The tang of the salt and the riff of the surf
The chorus of the parting-song
Oh the tears shining her cheeks, the laughter rumbling her belly
As her crew launch their ship of wild freedom.

And still untamed she breaches
and rises calling her benediction
A whale of a woman, magnificent, a survivor.

© Jane Chevous 2018