A husband was a leech. Sucked, sucked your substance, and no feedback ever, and where were you to refuel? All the batteries, the cardiac muscles pumping in the red blood, the blood from the arteries, rich in oxygen, were all for him to plug in to. You, run-down you, were on the circuit of the veins. Seven alarm rings children get up Mummy Mummy let me in I’m in a hurry hammering at the door (not even time to shit in peace) where has the hairbrush disappeared to you pig you took it Mummy did you get my blouse ironed where are my trainers have you seen my swimming trunks we need fifty pence for the hoop teacher ordered for us no she wants change she did say she wouldn’t accept notes and and you’re not going to school on an empty stomach come on have a bite not hungry (hope to goodness he’s not about to fall ill got exams to invigilate no way of getting out of that) who’s taken the matches again no milk left shit bet Daddy drank it during the night hurry up you’re going to be late again and the little swine have made a mess of their bedroom again here we go tidy up sweep up dust up and my God where have I put my BM 545 cards I bet the porter has thrown away those essays now I’m in for it and into the tube racing along the overheated corridors those draughts of dust eternally stewed and stewed again and into another train among other barely visible ghosts the colour of dust stewed like the air and up staircases smeared with graffiti and into a classroom where the chairs screech and someone has written on the wall facing your desk Prof=SS and the infuriating whispers and giggles of that gang of idiots at the back of the classroom and the passionate quests and requests of the lost dogs begging for a little attention who would gobble you up bones and all if you gave them the chance which you do but too often and the ugliness and the queuing and the lavatories where you take care not to sit on the cold enamel the seats having been torn away long ago to prove something what you’re not sure and stare at the scrawls prick and cunt and I like them like that and many-talented y.m. seeks y.m. to give him a good suck and back home tube again and again sagging under the weight of your briefcase then later on of the fruit and veg butter et al. you should count yourself lucky and queuing at the butcher’s where you get propositioned by the local drunk and don’t say I’ve lost my keys again and washing and ironing and aren’t I fed up to the back teeth with nice economical little dishes which you have to stew and stew again like dust to hell with family fare and good housekeeping and the doctor your son is six pounds overweight here is a leaflet to explain to you how to balance your meals (you old bugger, who’s asking for advice?) thank you doctor how kind.
‘When I think of menopause I don’t think of hot flashes; I am not here to talk about hot flashes.’ Mary Ruefle on menopause.
Urvashi Butalia on the life of transgender Mona Ahmed and her search for a feminine identity.
The Weak Spot
‘Murder class was the new thing, but of course they didn’t call it that. They called it Specialised Life Skills for Girls.’ – Sophie Mackintosh
woman is a construct
‘woman is basically meant / to be a residential complex’ – A poem by Angélica Freitas, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan.
Rachel Cusk on motherhood, marriage and separation.
‘I looked back and there was something wrong about his hand – how it cupped her bottom, how it probed.’
‘I again told him I wasn’t ready to have sex, and his only response was to lean in and kiss me. The hallway in which we walked seemed to be shrinking, closing in on us.’ – April Ayers Lawson on intimacy after sexual abuse.
A Few Words about Fake Breasts
‘You repeat this over and over. You pinch your nipples harder. Then harder and harder still. You twist them. You dare them to say Mercy. You stare into your own eyes that are watching you from the mirror.’