The Common Language of She – a poem by Lisa Luxx

Lisa Luxx, queer writer, performer, essayist and activist, joined us in our Feminist Space on the 2nd of July for our second workshop. Lisa crafted a poem for Feminist Spaces.

You can listen to Lisa’s reading of the poem, and read the poem, below.

You can also find Lisa on twitter: @lisaluxx and here on her website: lisaluxx.com


The Common Language of She

0.
She spins the globe between her thumb and fingers
Sits back, smiles and says, “we’re all in it.”
We pass the world between us.

1.
As a woman
As a woman
As a woman

As a woman I feel scared. I walk in empty space with only one lone man there.
Hang back, I linger, lurking in between pillars, I turn myself into a shadow to hide. My whole ancestral line taught me this is how to survive.

As a woman
As a woman
As a woman

As a woman seeking asylum I go to Primark to feel safe, price tags like invites. The sale never has clothes that fit. I’m too big. They wish I would fold myself into tiny things. I turn them over in my hands, wrists smelling like perfume testers that I spritz because

As a woman
As a woman
As a woman

I deserve it. I deserve a wardrobe and unfolded clothes, I deserve to unpack my suitcase and have money of my own.

2.
Czech Republic: Grandfather, on your business trip, I crossed my arms and sat on the steps where you had asked me to dance for the guests. A hum still beats on the back of my teeth when I bare them. What I didn’t sing then I won’t sing now.

[we sit with you]

Ireland: Grisly bits of meat, still stored in my cheek because every body said a child could not choose what they eat. Tissues catching chunks of flesh, which I’d refused to grind my teeth against.

[we spit with you]

Ethiopia: I came of age but refused my arranged marriage – you can’t imagine how much hate they engraved into me for choosing the freedom of education over the man of their dreams. Knowledge was my resistance.

[we learn with you]

Rwanda: Daddy just opened the front door. The women abandon their new words in haste; half spoken sentences dangling above the kitchen table. Eyes widen as a hush, but my mouth won’t be shut. His feet stomp as he bellows, “I told you not to learn this language! Don’t make yourself at home where we don’t belong!” Tribal tensions that drove us here; still ringing between his ears.

[we speak with you]

Rwanda: Starved as punishment but mama’s hand always snuck food under the door before I’d faint. Mother’s don’t know divide. Women are earth, men are countries. Man made lines as strict as time.

[we hunger with you]

3.
Behind a curtain of citrus, we stir mercy.
Taboos are framed in wooden circles and displayed.

Women speaking languages you can’t even name.
Learn that feminist in Lingala is bo muasi

And why Kurdish brides carry chicken blood to their wedding night
And that you can’t connect with someone else without changing yourself.

Compassion is painted art on mirrors, so you see you
While looking at another person’s heart.

Peace is recognising we are peacocks and parrots and doves
And the free earth carries us.

Release is putting down what we have held this far,
So we can take happiness onwards;

Happiness is two empty palms
Offering themselves as unwrapped presents.

2.
This poem has no author.
It is written by vertebrae cracking into place. Eight backs of bone and flesh, women of nerve and duress. While faces behind fill their mouths with watermelon, droplets ooze down chins like foreign accents.
This poem was written by compassion, peace, release and happiness.

1.
Ink hemmed us into the history of ourselves
We take needle as pen now, hair as thread;
Spelling words we never dared say.
Weaving between Kurdish, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese,
Uzbek, Dutch, Amharic –
Yet all speaking the common language of She

Fluently:

Raise my eyebrows / Cut off my hair / Apply lipstick / Scowl / Choose flat shoes / Walk towards you with my shoulders and hips swaying proud.
Let grey grow without dye / Lower the lids over my eyes / Run along main roads with friends / Raise my head on the same bus I once cowered in.

I am noise

Before I even open my mouth / Crossing borders / I saw myself in you / We applaud when tears rise to one another’s eyes / Laugh, clap, embrace, rise.

0.
She holds the globe to her chest.
A hiss escapes as she deflates it
And we discuss what’s coming next.