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Kate van der Borgh

Kate van der Borgh

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This poem is inspired by a tweet that asked women what they'd do if men had a curfew. Many responded that they'd go for a walk. [5 minute read]

Back in 2018 I went on a Dark Angels writing course, which culminated in all attendees producing a personal piece of writing. This is mine. It’s inspired by a tweet which asked women what they would do if men had a 9pm curfew – to which many women responded that they would simply go for a walk. [5 minute read]

If the streets were clear by nine
I wouldn’t leave the house with a new face
one without eyebrows
or eyelashes
nor would I go to the petrol station
in my massive leopard print dressing gown.
I wouldn’t gather my girlfriends
to cackle across the football field,
a coven flying on bottles of Sauvignon blanc
using the Leyton Orient scoreboard as a screen for our showings of Magic Mike.
and, believe it or not,
I wouldn’t use the time
to plaster warnings about Trump
and Kavanaugh
and all their monstrous familiars
on every house of every street in every borough of London.
I would go for a walk.
Not a cagoule-wrapped, Thermos-packed yomp.
Just a walk
down the main road and over the railway bridge
cresting a highway, now half as heaving with cars,
where I would watch the terraces
shifting into dusk.
I’d observe
without anxiety
bricks turning the colour of coffee beans,
gilt leaves purpling.
I’d appreciate the golden patches beneath the lampposts
not as islands of safety but as pools of serenity
and throughout
I would wear both earphones at the same time.
I’d think of my dad
and I’d wish he could join me
so we could see all these things in the same way
and yet
part of me would be glad that I didn’t have to ask him
and risk being refused,
knowing that the roads he’s walked have been very different to mine.
I’d go back the long way
instead of looking at the pavement
I’d look at the stars,
with no view to claim or conquer or rename a single one
but just to admire their determination to shine
and to acknowledge that they are – and always were –
as much mine as they are yours.

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