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previously published in Writing Women, 1994

Heloise

 

At night they brought me here:

Shawled, indistinct,

To enter a convent hedged about with beech,

Papery rolled golds, rattled like tiles

Enclosed a dark brick height, no windows showed.

They sheltered, and one pushed

The wicket open, "In". He didn't look.

 

Sexuality

Contaminated thought, emboldened me to act

Differently to parents, soldiers:

Lovingly to Abelard

 

 

                         Chill, chased silver

Bowls on polished tables coolly contained

Pointy greens, berries of corduroy, brown hairy trails

Of imprisoned ivies.

 

                                 Femininity made sense

Of Christianity, my habit's blacks

Burnt for my Sisters, for my Christ.

 

We all knew the dust smell

Of the stained-window carpet in the chancel:

We knew that violent men

Were only backed by that, by fluff, flaked skin:

 

                                 our bright blood

Hurt no-one, brightened into thought

Of Christ, of Sisters acting in His Name

 

Christian because of blood, and sexual seclusion.

I, most dangerous,

Held the elected post of Abbess.

 

Anne Rees

 

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