Joelle Taylor

The 8th Colour
choreo poem for 3 voices
based on the myth of Erinyes

.

(i)
Chorus:

From the rage of castrated Gods born     pale corner boys scrying tins of Super Strength
Tennants        tenants of the old ways the back alley broken bottle ballet ways the ashtray
grins of youth unfound
.                       out of the white static of silence they rise              brides of knives
their dusk hair hurricane         there they come      vaulting waves      hurdling tower blocks
burrowing beneath the skin of the city

they furious ones    they 8th colour    they ugly sister    reviled stepmother    mannish bride
frigid housewife    ungrateful whores    they ill-dressed mistresses    ancient infants    butch
bitches    all that is unfuckable    hashtag hags    grey daughters of     chaos wise children
they      unshaven women.

Call them Erinyes, the Furies, Eumenides    curse made flesh    the risen ghosts of murdered
women      unravelling into three infernal deities:

One a dyke. An aberration. Uncorrected proof. Call her Tisiphone

One a mother lost in migration. Once a sex trafficked girl, now the Mother of Loss.  Call her
Megaera

Another, an actress, an ordinary woman, a nothing much. Fear her the most. Call her Alecto.

 

Three Furies:
Strippers    sex workers    single mothers    disposable opposable girls    male order brides
butches and studs    the femmes and the furies

gathered behind us    in a swarm chorus.    Curse made shape and weight      Bastard flesh &
breath     We keep the night in our mouths      Our veins alleyways
We hounds of mother’s hate

Holding cock like crucifix will not save you        the fine furies gift you

guilt     my son     a death of a thousand uncertainties     your back slashed into hashtag    we
are black ink on black paper     blood for blood     we give birth on battlefields      we give
birth to battlefields

we avalanche

Justice is for men whose skin is pinstriped     for homeowners and business barons

Vengeance is for women. It is all we have.

See us

our night dance   riding typhoons on tabloid wings   imprinted with red top front pages     you
have whispered about us for years   and now we are here    dog head panting   the womb and
the grave are one   crack the night in half with my snake whips   burning blood traces maps
on to the dry earth  that lead us   to you.

 

(ii) Tisiphone (“Avenger of Murder”), Dudizile Zozo
(I – Tisiphone/ the first of three)

There are those men who       would steal the rainbow       them jackrolling boys

I was one of those    bi lingual    girls who hard learn     the language of the street
translating kisses in to curses     fear into prophecy    running from a clutter of    jackrolling
boys    machine guns nursed to chest    their pornographic grins    a woman splayed    a
violate girl    laid out    dissected    their jackrolling smiles connected    are a red lit
lane    leading to a flick of blue light somewhere south of here    that no one speaks about.
Catching a running woman is easy.   Just open your mouth.  Dudizile netted.

evicted from her skin        orbiting      her bones left there below    now compass     now
clock

when they were done     they thanked my empty (skin)    zipping up mouths    smoothing
hairlines and stories     a gaggle of giggling police     blue bottled over quiet body      as it
curled in the knuckle of night     raped into the shape of girl     the silencing of two mouths.
cured like ham   all studs   all wrong-walking women   strung up in the back room   of his
bedsit heart   that he might invade girl body and hoist his flags   that he may rename her skin
in his tongue    you colonist    you Sunday paper columnist     every 26 seconds I am born
again.

Did you mean to kill me             or were you trying to climb back into the womb? Did you
want to be born again    too?

The wild rising of danced dry earth at girl funeral    found face    and now I am here    dust
daughter   just behind you    a dry monsoon    stalker   I am the filthy quiet the moment
before he does it.

Now risen with my crown of severed cocks    my snake      pit      my slit throat grin
my song a police siren     an ambulance careering off the coastal road       the wail of a
graveside mother     the shriek of justice       and girl lower smile:        apartheid

 

(iii) Alecto (“Unceasing in Anger”)
(I Alecto- unceasing anger)

You would not expect it of me.     A girl stitched from quiet my skin floral wallpaper in
middle age     my mannequin children   gathered at my feet at the photoshoot in Tesco’s   I
lived an ordinary life    in an ordinary town    but as is ordinary for women    I married a prison
my teeth in that photograph    are a high fence    and you cannot see me behind it    but let me
remind you     of the sound of hand against cheek    face   ribs         my skin remembers the
night. I was measured against his mother. I was his mother.

Mine warned me of small men.  How they take up space in other ways.

How his heart is a fist   How his kiss is a fist   How his baby is a fist   How his job is a fist
How his song is a fist    How his fist is a bird beating against a window    at rage with his own
reflection      how he just wants to be let in.

When you beat a mother    you beat infinity    the child in the child in the child in the    into a
better shade of nothing much    your punches will be inherited    passed down on the mothers’
side    I wear wreathes of ovaries around her neck     his hand delivered    selection box of
bruises    sits tight lipped on the dressing table     only the hard centres remain.

And now you can    call me      the Queen of Argos     my flat pack heart     my occasional
table of a body    call me late and I will come     call me not and I will come     carrion boy
Bastards queue at my counter.

Next.

 

(iv) Megaera (“Jealous/ Grudging”)
(I – Megara, a mother lost at sea)

I died years before I circled my last breath     somewhere out there on the road from Aleppo    a
mother crawling between the broken teeth of the city    a seed    a hand stretched out   my dust
palm topography   my child echoed dreams of water   until I reached the sea.   Here it is, I
said   here it is.   I understand the language of the sea   and why it keeps returning.

but the boat was a country without a flag   detached from this world   floating in circles
too heavy with nothing much to make the crossing    the captain abandoned ship   then the
crew    then the world    and we prayed to a god of lost things    a small emperor of nothing

umbilical cords feed worlds    stretch back centuries   our umbilical are puppet strings     are
threads in a vast tapestry of breathing    and though mine was thrown as a life line    no one
caught it    just watched it silently as it slipped    deeper into the open mouth of the ocean.
the bubbles that rose above us were crystal balls. In it we could see rows of white men, arms
crossed.

we sank    dead mothers with ghost children swaddled    as boats circled but did not help    my
last breath is in a museum somewhere    I am dying on repeat on digital cenotaphs    my
scream photographed for study    my last words pinned down    dissected. The oceans are
formed from the tears of the drowning.

know this.   Women are made of water and like water    will always find a way   the hairline
fracture of his smile    the weakened dam of a woman   and when we die   we rise into rain
thick rain   those blackening   contusion clouds above    us are our ancestors    seeking
vengeance.    And now she: tidal wave.

 

(v)
Chorus:

You might have seen them    working the gumbo stall in Fergusson    serving sedition
among the po’ boys and okra   or maybe your eyes met on the red carpet    as she snapped    bit
off a picture of you in your black dress    or was it her you glimpsed    tracing circles around
a burning tower block    mistaking wings for ash     the night that Grenfell fell.

The Furies:
I am Oloko   I am Margerita Neri   I am Gulabi Gang, Henny Scherman, Dudizule Zozo,
Khatoon Kider, I am Daughters of the Sun, Bibi Ayisha, K.J Morris, Leshia Evans, Mary
Magdalene, Arkan’s daughter, I am Emmeline, I am Valerie, I am Aileen, I am your mother.

Call me.

 

Joelle Taylor is an award winning spoken word artist, poet, playwright and author. Her first collection Ska Tissue was released in 2011 and The Woman Who Was Not There in 2014. Her most recent collection Songs My Enemy Taught Me (Out-Spoken Press, 2017) was inspired by workshops engaging groups of vulnerable women across the UK. Speaking to refugees, prisoners, young mothers, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, the collection powerfully evokes the struggles women still face globally in the 21st Century. She was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society Arts in 2015.