This week, we’re proud to present “Pandora”, a poem written by Jenny (G12). It is a pastiche of Carol Ann Duffy’s poems in her book The World’s Wife. Pandora is a character from Greek mythology. She is infamous for opening up a jar with all of kinds of evil things inside. This is her story.
I was moulded from clay, from dirt, from filth
into something beautiful. A present.
He breathed life into me, pressed his lips against mine slowly, softly, steadily. Dripping and drooling.
My mind came alive and my body did too,
he smiled at me and this false heart of mine flew.
I was cast down from those heavens by my so-called Father. Wrapped up like the precious gift I was crafted to be,
he showed me off like cattle at a market,
ripe for the picking, perfect for slaughter.
They stared and stared and stared at me,
and the flesh of my arms raised and I fought the urge to flee.
He took me as his wife. Love at first sight. Showered me with shining, shimmering treasures. Glittery rocks and sparkling dresses.
Idiot. He couldn’t tell the difference between
love paid back and lines learnt at fifteen.
Don’t do this and don’t touch that. How dare he presume
he has any sort of credit.
He who does not own my heart
shall not command my flesh or spirit.
My father returned with a box.
A gift of sorts. Intricately carved
out of red virgin oak.
And while the two fortunate men who owned my life spoke, I considered the single iron lock,
my sweaty palms gripping my pure white smocks
I was never directly told about the key.
But I knew. As I always did.
We went on with our lives, I cooked and cleaned and cried in my house by the sea.
He commanded me and cast me aside,
and then drew me closer and covered me in kisses.
And a quiet chaos grew inside my heart.
Sweetly, lovingly, obediently as ever, I went through my day, and when the moon rose, I went to him.
I was a dream, a vision, that night.
I held him in my arms as he cried and trembled and shook, and imagined a different set of hands, bigger and warmer, caressing my body.
After it was done and he slept,
I slid out of bed and ghosted down the halls,
my blood furiously rushing through my veins,
the key taken from his pocket clutched in my hand keeping me sane.
They say I did it out of anger, or perhaps out of spite,
or that it was part of my nature
to be curious and dumb.
Some said that, like all women, I craved power and might. Yes, I slid the key into the lock
and turned it.
I opened the box.
I will not say I regret what I did,
for honesty is my last remaining virtue.
pride, pain, perversion,
these demons that ravage the world
are like my children.
For I have birthed them, brought them into existence.
But I do not regret what I did.
I started from dirt and was made into beauty
and then handed off like second-hand garbage.
I was married to man who gave me golden rings
with nothing but the purest of intentions,
only to watch these symbols of love turn into radiant shackles, symbols of confinement, of cruelty.
I know there are people out there who resent me, who want me dead, and no, I don’t blame them. Life was paradise before I turned that key.
But there is one lesson they need to learn,
you cannot yearn for freedom if you are not chained,
and you cannot appreciate pleasure if you have not experienced pain. Happiness only matters if you know you could be grieving.
I opened that box and made life worth living.
Featured image by Prin (G11).