Friday Poem – ‘21. When he tells me I’m not allowed’ by Kim Moore


This week’s Friday Poem is ‘21. When he tells me I’m not allowed’ by Kim Moore from All The Men I Never Married.

The cover of All The Men I Never Married shows a collage of a man made up of small images of nature - butterflies, flowers, leaves

Kim Moore’s eagerly awaited second collection All The Men I Never Married is pointedly feminist, challenging and keenly aware of the contradictions and complexities of desire. The 48 numbered poems take us through a gallery of exes and significant others where we encounter rage, pain, guilt, and love.

21.
When he tells me I’m not allowed to play with cars
because I’m a girl, I bring his arm up to my mouth
and bite. I’m sent to the Wendy House to pretend
to be good. Blank-faced dolls stare up at me.
Pretend oven filled with plastic fish-fingers.
Pretend windows with flowery curtains
sewn by someone else’s mother. Pretend hoover,
pretend washing machine. Pretend teapots
and tea-set. I watch through a gap in the wall
as my teacher sits in her chair, crossing her legs
in the way she told us only yesterday
we should copy. Be ladylike she said.
Stop showing your knickers. I’m burning in here
as she calls the class to order, waits for them
to cross their legs and settle. I long to sit
at her feet, listen to all the old stories
of sleeping women who wait to be rescued.
The book is a bird, its wings held tight in her hands.
She bends the cover back so the spine cracks,
balances it on one palm, turns to me and tells me
turn around, at once, face the wall.

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