xx

i am tired of being a woman.
Tired of my mouth and my temperamental breasts
tired of ovaries with expiration dates
tired of all the shoes and all the expensive lotions.

tired of having to prove that you are, truly, one
tired of the proving, and approving, and improving.
tired of ageing and having to do it all with grace.
the battle to be stronger, smarter, more polished version.

(but, wait – be careful:
not too strong for that’s too manly
not too polished you’d break like glass.
not too smart, because – just quietly –
noone likes a woman with too much ambition).

there are men who sit at my table,
circled around a bowl i offer up.
when i speak its like driving on ice,
determined, unfaltering, with care and nervous precision.

at nights I feast on tiger balm and eye-drops
basking in the romantic glow of my screen.
your pay cheque clears, its double than mine,
and you laugh, your mouth full, while dining with your children.

I am tired of my lips, and hair and my thighs
tired of questions why I am still empty
tired of too much emotion, or showing not enough
I am tired, and i am tired

of being a woman.

9, maybe 10.

the doorbell’s ringing. Valentino and Rudolf start yapping like maniacs, shrill and murderous by the door.  my eyes fling wide open, blinking as fast as my heart and I have no idea why. i’m 9, maybe 10. and its so early in the morning, its still dark.

there’s a sudden stillness in the air, a sticky silence and it drapes itself on top of my head, on my body, on the shadows in the room like a wet woolen blanket. this must be that calm people talk about, the moment before a storm.

mum slides my bedroom door open. a sliver of yellow light slashes my wall then disappears as she slides the door shut. she tells me to get out of bed. i feel clothes gently thrown at me from the closet, the soft thud of my Barbie backpack, jumper, my shoes. I hear voices outside my door, the words abrupt and solemn. the dogs are hurriedly shut up in the kitchen, ‘shush’ hisses my step-father. shush.  

‘Can she bring her Gameboy?’ mum asks the dark, her voice flat near my ear. ‘Yes ma’am’ the door replies. ‘but we’ll need to take it away when we get there.’ my mother opens the curtains wide, and I see the white moon-halo of her head against the window. she takes a deep breath,’get dressed Paulina,’ and leaves.

i get up from bed and through the crack of the door, there’s a woman and a man. and my step-dad – bleary eyed and edgy. she’s in a drab grey suit, tight pony tail, pulled back so fierce her face seems stretched. he’s in a uniform of some sort, dark blue jumper, tough leather shoes, kind eyes. he nods when i walk out of my room, and everybody turns.

suddenly i’m the child, i’m the smallest person here. i am in the middle of something, or the start, and i dont know which exactly. everyone’s a stranger – and i panic, mum – where is she? I see her coming out of the bathroom, carrying an overnight bag in one hand and her cheeks are damp. i want to tell her she’s forgotten to wipe her face properly. no lipstick, she holds out her hand to me. i think – something’s very wrong. she’s leaving the house with no lipstick on.

there’s a white van with bars on the windows. we get into the back, sit on benches that face each other. my mother’s rosary beads are swinging between her knees and mine. mum is gripping onto the beads so tight the tips of her fingers are white. ‘play with your gameboy, paulina’ she whispers. ‘dont look outside’. i need to pee, i say to her in my head. i squeeze my legs, and play tetris.

when we stop, we go into an office with metal doors and white, fluorescent lights which make me feel ill. the lady takes me into the bathroom – all metal sinks, white linoleum floors, the smell of disinfectant fresh and arid. she leads me into a cubicle and nods at it, closes the door behind me. i can see her feet behind the door, the boxy leather shoes, and i shut my eyes because it won’t come. i think of mum waiting outside on her own – she might leave without me – and i go in a hurry.

in another room, there’s a white backdrop and a camera on a tripod directly in front of it. i get told to stand on the black X on the floor, and look at the camera. front, turn to your right, turn to your left. mum barks my name when i start to smile. mum has her turn, but she wont look up. i look at her and realise, she’s so small, my mama. im nearly as tall as her. why isnt she wearing any lipstick?

then there’s black ink on fingers, water offered in plastic cups. and then a phone call, when i see my mother cry.

i cling to her waist, watch her twirl the cord around and around her finger. i feel her convulse against the plastic booth, with words scratched into it – love hearts and names, dates and swear words. i can see children playing outside one door, throwing a ball around, and washing hanging on wires behind them. mum is holding onto to the phone, she had put a tissue on the handle, and now she takes it off and uses it to blow her nose. she looks up occasionally, when a person walks past. she’s speaking to my step-dad, repeating words – ‘i dont know, i dont know, i dont know’.

this is the moment when the world i knew took on a different colour. a light was turned on, like a long row of white fluorescent tubes, flickering with an electric hum. i think this was when i went from 10, to 20.

i feel hate rising up my neck, thick, thick.

i do not speak.

Tomorrow, a wife.

This is the key to it.
This is the key to everything.
Preciously.

Two last names, one lifetime.
Tomorrow I get another, and its by choice this time.
And the key to that is this:

Here i am thinking of all the loves
the wistful sighs, the mates of souls.
Only later did it become something real.

It is not a choice to love or be loved.
All of that happens by nature like the gust of wind,
a cough, a flower leaning towards the sun.

But it’s to love and be loved by choice
that make us humans. I chose you
and you chose me, and that is the simple

key to this.
Our acceptance to love and hold no one else

No one else, but each other.

run around sue

you would think that i’d be blogging like a crazy person last few months, just blog posts all up on your face. blog posts about the dress and the cake and tulle and sequins and doves for the wedding because THATS SOOO PAULINE SHE WOULD TOTES BLOG ABOUT ALL THAT STUFF.

but i havent for three main reasons:
– my blog has been undergoing some pretty intense spring cleaning, due to the million spambots that infested it
– i havent had time
– i cant seem to allocate enough emotional and mental energy to go into the nanoscopic detail of all the things youre meant to as a ‘bride to be’.

the lack of scrutiny i have for my own wedding is probably the only thing that’s stressing me out.

anyway, thought i’d check in. it seems my blog is close to being fixed so i’ll be back with something a little more exciting than this blog post.

x

its a funny thing, coming home.

Thanks to Lori, and a small Asian genius called Tam, i am back.

my blog, which was hacked and subscribed 200 ‘authors’ in 3 months, started writing posts about Justin Bieber and Weight Loss pills today. why am i telling you this? im sure you all would’ve received the notifications.

i am incredibly sorry for adding to what must be dozens of useless spam-shit that already litters your mailbox. these bugs were so good that they had blocked me out of my own settings, so i couldn’t get in and fix things.

oh, bugs. why you do to me.

so here i am. new lick of paint, and a lot of poetry and bits and pieces i’ve had to use a pen and paper to write.

i am really, really sorry for the inconvenience.

40 day dream.

one day you will know
that you never know anyone.

you dont know if at night
in the heavy darkness above their beds
their hearts leak out of their throats

because of the weight alongside them
or the absence of.

you dont know the atrocious lies,
old lovers they’ve dismissed,
all the dreams they once had, the wishing.

you’d never meet their younger selves,
the wine-dark passionate sighs, the sacrifices,
the ones that got away.

the people they once were
are now dust and broken bits of bone
shed carefully like old skin.

there’ll be a minute, a moment,
when the water pulls away from the earth
and you see the remnants of love, and plans, and loss.

you open your eyes and you see your open hands
holding on to nothing at all,
but air.

and i, am the arrow.

i saw my life branching out before me like the big naked tree out the front, the one you led me to that wonderful summer night, where you chose to kneel down on one knee. from the tip of every branch, like a fat, bright red apple, an array of scenarios beckoned and winked. one apple was a husband and a happy home brimming with books and movies and children, and another apple was a famous poet and another apple was a quiet reader – calm and comfortable. another apple was salty and tanned and speaking the beautiful language of home. another apple was Spain and South America and wrinkled suitcase clothes, you and i passing red wine in a glass cup between us. and another apple was tired and lost and hurting. another apple was a pack of old lovers with unknown endings, and beyond and above these apples were many more apples i couldn’t quite make out. i saw myself sitting in the crotch of this big, leafless tree, starving to death, just because i couldn’t make up my mind which of the apples i would choose. my usual reaction, i suddenly realise, the bated breaths before the staccatos of my 30 years – the un-decisions, the weighing, the silent ‘oh!’ at the end of an event. i wanted the ones up the top, but how do you climb a tree exactly? i wanted most of them, and definitely didn’t want certain others, and i knew choosing one meant losing all the rest. and, as i sat there, unable to decide, the apples began to wrinkle and go black. and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

sylvia. rewritten.