Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Poem: Shame

As small children we were taught about it in baggy school uniforms and knee socks
and never wearing patent shoes lest the boys saw our underpants reflected in them.
We were taught about it at rare school dances,
where the nuns pushed us apart telling us, ‘leave room for the holy ghost’.

Later on we were taught about it in class with talk of a man and a woman,
being married and doing your duty, bearing children.
In not speaking about pleasure and desire they taught us about it,
leaving us confused, betrayed and alarmed at our own bodies.

We were taught it in girls disappearing from school once bumps began to show
and in scandal when one teacher was asked not to return.
In not talking about the diversity of sexuality they taught us about it
telling us lies about punishment and consequence.

In teaching us about it they took what was good and pure
and twisted and corrupted it until every longing was a perversity.
On our knees and confessing our impure thoughts in dark rooms
we were taught it, without their ever needing to say the word.

Later on, in trying to rebel against it we rediscovered it, deepened it
in the bottom of a bottle, a handful of pills or powder and bad decisions.
In being determined not to feel it we bargained our happiness against it,
driven by it we sacrificed ourselves to dirty dark rooms and misery.

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