Poetry to The Editor? Margaret Gill’s “Engines,” on the dire topic of Rape

Dear Editor:

I don’t know why I called it “Engines“, but this poem came to me a few months after my friend was raped in 2012 and I was finding it difficult to help myself deal with the tragedy by looking for poems on rape by my favourite poets. I found only these two references:

Pablo Neruda, Chilean nationalist poet who became a Nobel Poet Laureate and who I count among the poets I love the most, writes in his memoirs of how he raped an Indian woman of the so-called “untouchable” class. He did not call it rape as she seemed to submit and said nothing nor made any actions to deny – or accept – him. She also left without a single word after he had satisfied himself. He was an ambassador of Chile to several countries. She was the woman who took out his night waste (urine and feaces) as the women of the untouchable class only could do and did as one of the few means of income. Unfortunately, I can’t help still loving Neruda’s work, yet he lost my respect for him as a man.

Dana Gilkes, Barbadian Commonwealth organization-awarded poet and a winner of the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award has a book of poetry, “Anatomy of a Scream“, (published in 2007 in Columbus Ohio by Pudding Publications).

The whole book, which is very well written and was the Frank Collymore Endowment awarded book, was about a young woman reliving her own rape when she was a child - and as a young woman reflecting (such a soft word "reflecting") and wondering "...Who had stunted the growth/ of her angel wings?".

The whole book, which is very well written and was the Frank Collymore Endowment awarded book, was about a young woman reliving her own rape when she was a child – and as a young woman reflecting (such a soft wordreflecting“) and wondering “…Who had stunted the growth/ of her angel wings?“.

These were the two references that may or may not have helped me to deal with my friend’s rape. Now I read of another young woman’s angel wings hurt as they find her body in a field somewhere and my own poem about my friend’s rape comes to mind. I hope you print it and share this letter. But if you don’t that is OK. Just show it to someone. It may help them deal.

In fact, I will not share “Engines,” now. I will share another poem I wrote on the request of either Joycelin Massiah or Roberta Clarke at the Regional Tribunal on Violence Against Women held in Barbados some years ago by UNIFEM Caribbean Office (now UN Women) under the directorship of Professor Massiah.. The poem treats of the stories I heard: intimate partner abuse, incest, job sexual harassment, rape and murder.

For the Perpetrator
(may I honour you?)

I want to honour you an ting
like if you is Christ,
cause you love this church
like you body and ting,
and you want to honour it
and treasure it
and git it you name,
not rake it, or scrape it,
or whaever.
All I waah do is honour you.

I want to honour you and ting
cause you is my parent,
and I want tah live long
in de lan and ting
(cause dah is de only commandment wid a promise),
but you not tah wreck me, or ruin me, or drive me tah wrath.
All I waah do is honour you.

So, you see me as slave
cause I work fah you,
so you feel you could harass my peace
ta ah breakdown,
or unemployment,
or prostitution.
But all you is is my boos.
And all I waah do is my job,
an tah honour you.

I cannot imagine
why de woman
must leave she body
so you could inhabit it
wid you rage,
wid you weeping
wid you dirty fingernails,
when all I waah do
as poet, as woman,
is honour you.

All I waah do is honour you.
So wha is you problem.

  • Guidance,

Margaret D. Gill (I will send the other poem sometime)

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