Here is a poem that was first published in Poetry London in Issue 71, Spring 2012. It’s a fab magazine – so if you are looking for one to subscribe to, you can’t go wrong with this one! You can subscribe by clicking on www.poetrylondon.co.uk
It’s been a while since I posted one of my own poems on here – so I thought it was about time and now seemed a good time to commemorate the centenary of her death – which is actually on the 8th June.
I think I listened to a radio programme about Emily Davison – I’d never heard of her before and started to write this poem. It was the best kind of poem to write – it was an act of discovery for me and I remember really enjoying writing it, and being humbled by her story, which tied in so closely to History, with a capital H. I hope you enjoy it!
And if you saw her hiding in the air ducts of Parliament
it was only to listen to the speeches.
And if she set fire to post boxes and burnt letters,
it was only certain envelopes she put pepper in.
And if she threw a rock or two, at one carriage
or another, they were, at least, wrapped in words:
rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.
And if, being imprisoned, her and a thousand like her
went on hunger strike, at least no one died –
the Cat and Mouse Act of 1913
sent the starving women out on licence,
and brought them back when they were well again.
And if an angry guard forced a hose inside her cell
and filled it with water, at least she didn’t drown.
And if she hid in a cupboard in the House of Commons
the night of the Census it was only to claim it
as her official residence. And if her friends delivered
themselves as human letters to Downing Street,
but were sent back, unopened, at least they made
the news. And, not knowing whether she chose
to die or whether in her dreams, she saw the king’s horse
flying through the line, her sash around its neck,
at least we know of the bruised shins of the horse,
of the jockey, ‘haunted by that woman’s face.’