Here comes the Summer sun.
And with it the looks, the stares, not to mention the hi fives (directed at my arse),
The ever tiresome catcalls, so frequent they
Blend into the background of cars and buses and
The layers removed to head turns and whistles
As jumpers come off and men come on
To women who just want to walk to work.
The gazes are returned with eye rolls or hair flicks or
Tiny tensing shoulder shrugs.
And yet it doesn’t put you off.
Look, I can’t stop you.
And I’m not looking at you…that is
Until I feel your eyes on me and suddenly my arms want to close my shirt
And wrap my scarf tighter around my neck to hide my breasts,
My lips curl in a sneer and my eyes narrow in disgust,
My legs move a little faster as my entire body viscerally reacts to your entitled gaze.
a top and leggings and- A baggy t-shirt or A dress Jeans and shoes
It shouldn’t matter what I’m wearing.
It doesn’t matter what I’m wearing.
The reaction is always the same.
You don’t have my permission to make me feel undressed
When I am fully clothed in the street.
I know some women like it or don’t mind it or don’t say anything even if they hate it.
I know some women want to feel like they’ve still got it, that it’s a compliment, appreciation,
As if they’ve aged so much that they’ve stopped being human
And instead become a piece of meat,
As if self esteem is measured in whistles or length of stares.
As if value and worth depreciate, inversely proportional with age.
But I don’t get dressed in the morning for you.
I don’t show more skin in the summer so you can see it.
I don’t imagine how you’ll react to my body or the clothing around it when I walk down the road
Because I don’t care what you think or want from the women, the strangers who walk past you in the street.
My life, my body, my decisions
Are not about you.
Because I don’t know you. I owe you nothing. You are entitled to nothing of me. And yet you act so entirely entitled.
Look, I can’t stop you looking.
But I would if I could.
If I knew a magic clothing formula to stop you staring I’d probably wear it every day.
Even while I know it shouldn’t be on me – the responsibility to clothe myself “responsibly”, responsively.
I don’t want the attention and no, it’s not arrogance on my part.
I’m attractive, sure but I don’t believe
I’m so beautiful or special.
I just have arms and a
I’m a woman. And it is Summer.
There is no god.
It was the windiest day that year. The boy and the girl stood next to each other at the top of the hill. Neither of them spoke. The sun looked like it was falling down the sky, melting towards the horizon like butter being tilted in a pan.
A little way down the hill a tree stood behind a lamp post. Each time the wind blew, the tree bent towards the lamp post, which appeared to wobble slightly after each swirl of wind. The wind grew stronger and the lamp post began to flicker as the sunlight dimmed, and dusk settled in and made itself comfortable. Dust bin lids flew open, plastic bags teased each other in the air, playing a game of kiss-chase none of them would win. The wind grew even stronger and still the boy and the girl did not move.
As the lamp post’s fitful glimmers became a fully-fledged beam, the wind blew an almighty breath and a sharp clatter of a fallen dustbin caught the girl and boy by surprise. She jumped and he stumbled and in the precise moment their attentions were diverted, something changed. The light shone brighter for a split second, the wind blew so hard they were frozen in time. When they recovered it was as if something had been unlocked. They both felt it, both saw in the mirrored shocked expressions that each could hear the same voice as the other, and each instinctively knew that it was unmistakeably the voice of the tree.
All the trees around them were blowing with the wind, blown by it, but this tree always bent in the same direction. She rocked towards the lamp post, no matter which direction the wind blew, no matter how hard the fight against the elemental force and the other trees all blowing the same way. This tree blew towards the lamp post. This tree had a voice and the girl and the boy could hear it.
They heard her heartfelt plea to the lamp post for him to notice her. They heard her wailing and crying and straining, encouraging herself to reach the tree, to push just that little bit further. They heard her moments of defeat as she thought of giving up and moments of strength as she tried ever harder. They saw in a flash the years she had spent bending towards him. They were knocked backwards by the weight of so much feeling. Her roots disrupted the earth beneath her and every word she uttered was about the lamp post.
On and on the tree stretched and her branches cracked in their strain. She looked each time as if she would get there. All it would take is one twig-tip but every time she was just too far away. The wind whipped her back just a little and however hard she stretched she could not reach the object of her desire.
The boy and the girl heard her trying to speak to him. They heard the story of the tree growing up behind the lamp post. Years spent, shy and waiting for him to one day turn around and notice her. They heard how she had finally found the courage to talk to him. They heard her ask him if he would consider turning around, just once to look at her, see her and maybe one day feel for her the longing she feels for him.
The girl and the boy and the tree waited. They waited as the lamp post wobbled. They waited as the tree continued to strain against the wind, to strain against the feeling that her courage was futile. They waited for the lamp post to answer. And as they waited, the boy and the girl felt another surge of strength in the wind around them, saw the light brighten once more, and they heard a voice that was not the tree. It was a voice that echoed through their minds with a clang of metal and a spark of fire.
They heard the lamp post lament to himself that he simply wished he wasn’t so lonely. They heard how he waited, day in, day out, night after night for someone to come along and light the way for him, the way he lights the way for others so often. They listened to how he imagined he had someone to tower over him and make him feel small, loved and warm. They thought they heard him sigh with a creaking metallic groan.
The boy and the girl could hardly breathe. They looked back at the tree and willed her to shout louder, willed her to stretch harder to reach the lamp post who needed her as much as she wanted him. He just didn’t know it yet.
They thought they heard a clunking laugh from the lamp post. They looked back at him and heard him berate himself for being so stupid. For no one could really love a mute, deaf old post. How foolish he had been for thinking anyone could. He would always be alone with only his thoughts for company.
The boy and the girl both thought they saw the lamp post slump, almost imperceptibly. His light now seemed to dim, the orange glow tinged with sadness.
The girl and the boy looked back to the tree who had not yet given up. If only the tree could reach the lamp post with her branches then he might turn around and see her, he may feel her and know that someone wanted to give him everything he was waiting for.
The boy and the girl instinctively knew that however hard the tree tried she was just too far away. And however loud the tree shouted, the lamp post would always be deaf and could never hear her. He would never turn around and see her for he did not even know he could.
The boy and the girl stood next to each other at the top of the hill. They watched as the night wore on. After some time, they moved a little closer and held each other’s’ hands.