It’s Poetry Tuesday! We are going to go back through all my old notebooks and look at the god-awful poetry I wrote when I was an angsty teen and then you will get present day Michelle’s re-interpretation/headdesk horror-filled embarrassment.
She stands there tall and beautiful
Her hair flows free down her back
Blood coats the sword gripped tightly in her hand
The goddess of war
The one without mercy
Nothing can faze her
Feeling has been cut off
Cold eyes assess the sea of dead in front of her
So familiar it brings a bittersweet wave of nostalgia
Years earlier the same one lies curled up
In the corner of a dark room
Green eyes sparkling with tears
They take in everything
Tortured screams fill the air
They are stuck in her throat
No one sees her
She sees all
She absorbs it to become stronger
So this can never happen to the ones she loves again
The goddess moves among the dead and dying
Ready to put one out of their misery
In the midst she finds a child
One just like her old self
Silent but yelling inside
Calm yet her mind is awry
Nothing can cure this
Not even time
It will only make it worse
With no sound the blade lifts
Slicing through the air with a whistle
Another is sent to the one above
Another poem in which I for which cannot remember if I was in middle school or high school when I wrote it. I also am unsure of what was the inspiration for this post. The contrast of the goddess of war and scared child makes me think of the movie version of Joan of Arc that I watched when I was younger. It came on TV and my grandfather said that it was okay for us to watch SPOILER WARNING it wasn’t – Joan’s sister was raped and murdered in front of her in the first fifteen minutes. I think that opening scene impacted me quite a lot because I can still remember it now while extreme clarity.
With the release of the all female cast Ghostbusters I have taken a moment to look at my childhood and think about the dearth of superheroines and heroines in it. I think that I probably had less of a problem than a lot of women because I read so much Tamora Pierce and Patricia C. Wrede. Women were strong and smart and fighters. They could do everything and they fought and overcame misogyny and the patriarchy every day. So I don’t think it was as much me searching for strong female role models when I wrote this poem, but more exploring the traumatic backstory that accompanies most hero(in)es. From the very beginning, I have enjoyed writing characters who have very traumatic beginnings and over come them (hence the fact that I am a melodramatic little shit). I had one character, who I wrote with my childhood friend, who was kidnapped by her parents in infancy, but was raised to believe that they had abandoned her to this life of abuse and horror. She eventually hunts down her parents to kill them, only to find out that her whole life has been a lie and she has to completely shift her perceptions and it is very hard.
This theme has continued into my current writing. I am working on a project with a friend and the main character’s whole family, barring two siblings, are killed in front of her and she has to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. When we were conceiving of the book series, my co-conspirator told me that he wanted it to push the boundaries of what you typically see in books, to go past normal fucked-up-ness and really try the characters. I have been working on this and you can see the main girl’s (she is only 15 which is why I call her a girl and not a woman) morals starting to be chipped away at until, at the end of the first book, she makes a choice that is almost the complete antithesis of who she was at the beginning.
I think teen Michelle also enjoyed toying with the idea of death being a mercy, of killing being a kindness. The main character of the poem sees this child who she knows will suffer and warp until she is just like her and instead of letting her get to that point she kills her. Whether the kill is in mercy or for her own safety – not wanting her to become a warrior strong enough to challenge the war goddess – it is a little unclear. But the image of a strong woman with unbound hair and bloody sword is a strong one that I relish because it is one that is so very rarely seen. I am starting to watch Game of Thrones because Brazilian Helicopter Pilot has finally talked me into it, and yes there are strong women in it, but the cavalier way HBO sexualizes the women and their rapes will never cease to bother me. Yes, I know that the books have a lot of rape and sexual objectification of women it, but there is a way to shoot that to frame it in a bad light, to show it as the horrible thing it is instead of filming it as they did, which is in a “sexy” way that probably makes people pop metaphorical and literal boners across the world.