HerStory

By Noel A. Ihebuzor

(A response to this poem which pains and troubles me)

 

I veil my face

I fake, I affect a pace

I strike a pose to please

 

I part unveil my ware

to attract, to beckon, to appeal,

all to strike a better bargain

 

draining nights

on these dark streets,

mean, dim

where for a fare fair

I fair sell my flesh and frame,

me tame, soul lame, filled with shame

before rates of exchange

driven hard, harsh, heartless

unequal, the weak cannot bargain

 

I empty my soul,

as he emptyng inside me, also empties me

so much pain,

for so paltry a gain

all so that you, my child

will not be empty

when you rise

 

In the mornings, when you rise

clad in your innocence,

as you eat and fill up, I sing for you

but also to forget, my smiles fake, as guilt

and self-pity gnaw at my insides

 

And I sink, I sink and sing to forget.

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13 Responses to “HerStory”


  1. 1 st9ja May 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    This is beautiful, so beautiful.

  2. 3 Susan L Daniels May 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Hard to “like” this, but needed to be said. So sad when there are no other options–wish she had a skill a trade to sell other than her flesh. I understand this is changing, but too slowly for a lot of women and their children.

    • 4 Noel Ihebuzor May 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Susan, thanks for reading and commenting. Painful and sad. I tried to imagine as I wrote the pains that the burdens of shame and societal blame place on these women.

      • 5 Susan L Daniels May 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm

        Understood. You spoke so well for women like this–you have always had an ear to hear voices like this, and the right mouth to tell their stories, as well. We need to hear them. As for shame–there is no shame in selling what one has to in order to avoid starving his or her children. Any shame in this lies with us, for limiting opportunities for women to provide adequately for themselves and their children. I do know someone (clears throat) who is trying to change this picture.

        Can’t tell you how much your work is needed and appreciated.

  3. 6 readinpleasure May 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Noel, this wrenched at my heart. So poignant, tragic, with a haunting beauty to the words. But for some there are no other options.

    • 7 Noel Ihebuzor May 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Thanks, Celestine. We must work to create other options such that women are not reduced to these acts of “survival in the present” but which also kill them slowly from within and without. Education, job creation, social protection and social safety net programmes are do-able, cost effectrive and have huge returns on investment.

  4. 8 Anne June 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

    So powerful – I just agree with everything that Susan and readinpleasure have already said here. You have given enormous support to the original poem with this.
    And it does sing out at the end in a kind of hope, I feel –if we only listen.

  5. 9 Noel Ihebuzor June 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Oh, gosh, Anne! so kind.

  6. 10 moskeda July 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    When words leave the pages and stir emotions
    Deep, Noel

  7. 12 Uche July 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I stumbled upon this and while reading it, it felt like sandpaper against my skin, searing pain it rendered… I am awed!


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