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Untitled, unfinished, unknown

This is the only entirely autobiographical poem I've ever written. It was incredibly difficult and could only come out as free verse, which is fitting I suppose. I don't share it lightly, but for International Women's Day I think it's important to remind everyone that no matter what you've been through, someone else knows what it's like and has survived it as well.

I don't for one second pretend that my situation was as dire as that of far too many women around the world. This is not a sympathy bid.


“How could you leave me?

I did everything

for you…”

So selfless

you took my virginity

on your living room floor

piercing my innocence

burning my soul

with the cheap carpet

as tears formed

I tasted blood on my lips

and you said:“I hope that was good

I’ve already come.”

And then,“That’s four virgins for me.”

So selfless

when you told me

that all your girlfriends

had left you for other men

and you knew that I would never betray you

I take trust seriously

so I had no choice

So selfless

you didn’t bother to buy me a birthday present

that year – you just said,“Go and pick out a ring you like

I suppose it’s time we got married.”

So selfless

we were married at three in the afternoon

so it didn’t conflict

with your baseball game

On the fourth of July so you could say

it was the day you lost your independence

How amusing

So selfless

when our first child was born

and I had my fifty odd stitches

your first question was,“You’re kidding? Six weeks?”

and you didn’t believe it

so you had to have your way

despite the pain

So selfless

when I graduated first in my year

and was invited to the Dean’s Ball

you couldn’t wait to go

and tell the “useless intellectuals”

they were wasting their lives

so I didn’t give you the chance

and missed another dream

I wish you had beaten me

So I could share the bruises

So selfless

when I said I didn’t want any more children

at least for a while

you thought I wanted contraception

so I could go off and have an affair

So selfless

that when I was in hospital with our second child

trying desperately to rest

you would phone me whenever

our son woke up

because you couldn’t look after him

on your own

So selfless

that if I said no

you would make me watch you

while you took care of yourself

and then insist

that I finish you off

so there was no mess

So selfless

that I had to learnto fake it well

because no orgasm meant

I wasn’t trying

So selfless

I broke faith

with my faith

because God did not have to live

with the constant mantra

"It could be worse"

So selfless

that when I said I was leaving

it came as a shock

you said you’d never been warned

you said I was being irrational

you said I needed to grow up

I said goodbye

How could I leave you?

You did everything

for you

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