Storyhouse Women Weekend Poem

Monday 29 April 2019

This poem was written by Storyhouse Women poet-in-residence Lianne Futia throught Storyhouse Women Weekend, and performed and the Weekend Round-Up.

Stand

We often stand in this life divided by statistics, colour, culture, religion, opinions

Beginning relationships with stranger shaped reticence

Unpicking clothing with eyes like they are the lines that define and hem a soul

Unpicking of flesh wounds like alone it will unpeel commonalities, familiar tastes

Perhaps similar historical landscapes that pattern our skin

Enough to end division and start conversation

Fingers crossed behind backs for hope like ivory wish bones

To find home in each other

So, we arrived here eager to listen

Because stories that remain inside fester in all that divides us

And knit to a deafening silence

But crocheted with care gives purpose in all that defines and builds us

Storyhouse has revived us

Leant down to hold us, arms as wide open as the kitchen ceiling

Stretching and weaving to the mezzanine of light that fed our awakening

Permitted removal of the expected polite

Enough to free our voices to reach new heights of reason

To sit with the words of Lemn Sissay that remind us

Meet at the corner of morning for darkness only engulfs the darkness

But this dawn of movement harkens for us to wake and take action as one torch light

To search the shores of life again for equality, purpose and meaning

Embrace the freedom we might find there in the sirens of connection and collective growth

In our vibrations of hope and truth you cannot ignore what permeates souls

Brave women bearing their souls –

About abuse, about violence, about defying the odds and surviving what should never have to be endured

Bravery in truth teaches it could happen to anyone one of us

Not forgetting that it is a global issue –

Our pain doesn’t end where our own fingertips cease to feel

And these theatre walls have echoed the retelling of pain, strength and determination

With hope and laughter, but above all with conversations

Speech bubbles that you must carry carefully in both hands

Release them to action in the youthful air of understanding that we have seen found in young leaders

Or plant them like seedlings with care so that they may bloom

But don’t forget that not all flowers bloom in April

Some fragrance the air much later and that is beautiful too

 

A Rose by any other name than Brave would still smell as sweet, but only when nourished first from within

Toxic soil makes us wither, so we must first plant ourselves in words of self-belief

Growing to fruitful trees laden with the right language

And languish in the education that has climbed the steel frames of this building like ivy, clinging to our hearts

Reminding us to open our eyes, savour our senses, save our self through finding self-worth

Replenished our minds and our words

Presented opportunity to connect, react, act

The ability to reject that which we didn’t know we could before

Carved a footpath to the door where we might make our tribe, or even our un-tribe

Making us challenge our beliefs to reach a turning point

Conversations that steal us to declare –

“I didn’t know I was a feminist, I didn’t know I could to this, I didn’t know I could break up with the world and be better for it, I didn’t know I could be something else at 71 years old, I didn’t know…

but now I feel the pain and brilliance of growth from within”

And we begin to embrace womanhood and all that grows within her almighty plight

We have been lifted from the hustle and bustle of life that carries on outside those doors

Temporarily transported to share discomfort and joy in the comfort of these walls

An honest and heartfelt sharing of the stories that define our lives

We have witnessed the finding of strength in Islam

Those words of infinite wisdom –

“I’ll not burden you more than you can take”

And we can take it

We are stronger than the things that try to break us

And this safe space has reminded us

We have shared times of inspiration and elation in a place taken over by feminine making

And movements of mind, of body, of thoughts

Danced to the beats and the beauty bouncing off the kitchen walls – the heart of the home we have found here

Joy and fired up chatter driving out womanly self-doubt and fear

Synchronicity and smiles in hula hooping, Handbag Harmonies, in singing and thinking new

We’ve been making movements

And if they are stepping stone increments of womanly design that’s more than fine

For ripples grow to waves and miniscule particles together brave the elements to make mountains

And when the moon whispers for the tides to ebb and flow, she makes sure no grain of sand is left unmoved

I have learned that in her silhouette darkness you can still see the stars that guide us, mark out a clearer path

So, we amassed here with our collective struggles, our sharing of experience

Our laughter and heartfelt mass of consciousness

To unmask the unconscious bias

That we might rise up together

Belonging is the measure of comfort when we are on our knees

And we are all but a tragedy away from being a Fallen Angel

But if life and oppression break us, we are fixable and tenacious

So, through conversations, a better education of what is right and equal

That we are capable and know our worth

That we may begin to use our weaponry of words to fix division, to break oppression, volunteer, or take action

Become the start of an ongoing fashion of celebrating women

Supporting the cause and carrying forward

Building unity and movements that move beyond this building and move us

Transaction of experience and willingness

To speak up, speak out

About everything that does and does not define what we might rise to become from the ashes

And now I ask you to stand with me, with Storyhouse women and the vision

Stand if you have seen and felt inspiration

If you have been moved to take conversation beyond the walls, out to the wider world

Palestine, Nigeria, all the wider world is here, it’s our back garden

All the land our home

And it is shaped by our hands alone

So, stand If beneath your feet you have found solid ground

A platform from which to spring hope eternal for the matriarchy

For the maternal rhythm cascading through the garret, stand

For marriages and meetings of equals where love doesn’t hurt, because it shouldn’t

Stand for the echo of words around and above that will build the conversations you dare to start from this moment

Stand, if you know that these old cinema walls have played the trailers of our lives and our plight to mend what should never have been this broken

Stand if you have hope for equality

Both here and globally

It starts with you

It starts with me

So, stand.