For Sarah.

Steadfast we stand, we shine our lights in solidarity to the memory of your soul.

The tragedy that took away your cherished life is beyond unimaginable and I send my heartfelt love and sympathy to your family and loved ones.

It is so hard I have drilled it into my children and so many girls that I have taught about how to try to be safe on the streets. Not because I wanted them to be afraid, but because I didn’t want them to ever come to harm. As a mother for me, that has always been the one thing that was important, for them not to be harmed. What saddens me is that they have both already had to survive sexual harassment that is unwarranted and unwanted.

I have walked in the middle of the road on a dark night to avoid the parked cars, I have changed my route and taken a longer safer one, I have quickened my pace at the heavy sound of footsteps behind me, I have had my keys clenched firmly in my fist poised and my cellphone ready to dial.

I have avoided going out at night, been the sober driver so I didn’t leave myself or any of my friends vulnerable. I have gone to evening events and my mantra is always the same – I can have a glass of wine when I get home. I have worried as a mother, ensured that my girls could phone me at any time of day or night and in any state of drunkeness, My husband and I have rescued them in the middle of the night, provided a taxi service to ensure that no-one was left vulnerable or alone.

I have survived being followed, being stalked, being cat-called, seeing men expose themselves in public, (more than once- I was just 7 years old the first time it was in the Children’s play park.) I have been assaulted and stood my ground and had to protect myself and I am acutely aware that I am not alone and that most of what I have described is laughed off, unreported and unchallenged.

In my thirties I was assaulted and abused for going into my local bar without my husband and no-one in the bar stood up for me.

Yesterday at the age of 54 I went on a 5km walk alone, by myself, along the canal in the daytime, for me it was my attempt to reclaim the day in memory of Sarah Everard. I do go walking on my own but always in places where there are likely to be other people. There are hills I would still like to climb but I still lack the courage-it is a work in progress- I am working on it.

In Whangarei in May 2016 we did reclaim the Hatea Loop with what seemed like the whole town, following a shocking sexual assaultof a runner in the early hours of dawn. We turned out to walk at sunset, men women and children, and when this lockdown is finished maybe we can do this in memory of Sarah too.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Back at you… determined not to be a martyr Lily took the law into her own hands….

I want to serve it back

With a wooden cricket bat

Just one great big thwack

 

Sends you reeling in the rain

I Paddle in your blood stain

“That’ll learn you” I feel no disdain

 

Bat in hand and now it is done

You are forever silenced and gone

Only vile memories of you linger on.

 

There is no post murder remorse

You broke me and ridiculed my flaws

No grief just justice in this final vengeful divorce.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

This was an accidental poem and I suspect Lily is a distant relative of Fairground Fay. However as I searched for a suitable image of Lily….I came across the beautiful Lillian Gish. She was movie star in the silent movie era, and although she never married, she did have several love affairs, one notorious one with a director called D W Griffith. There were some who declared the relationship to be “an ongoing psychodrama” but I have no real knowledge of this matter. Anyway I feel that Lillian Gish is the perfect image for my accidental revenge poem. Both images courtesy of wikimedia.

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Fairground Fay

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Fay was away with the fairies

Loves lost dream and high as a coconut shy

She made devil may care seem tame

She made revelling and carousing her game

By daytime she was clean and bright as a button

But lamplight changed her demeanour

like a chameleon she was more of a wanton

One sultry summer night

She got into a fairground fight

And the Police had to pull her out of a fountain.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

I think I used this one for humour. We were often referred to as POM’s when we were in the Antipodes. Prisoner of her majesty, as many of the early settlers, were actually from the convict ships sent from England. So even though Fay looked very respectful I wanted to share her darker side…

This is for d’Verse poetics. Our theme was mugshots.

 

 

What am I?

 

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I am the face of hope,

In the fast fading light.

 

I am the distant dream

Driving forwards, when the day draws to a close,

The Star-bright shining in a suburban sultry night.

 

I am the laughter and the tears, the fear and guilt and pain,

Felt by all the mothers before me, the broken and the humbled, the joyous and loving,

I am the seed, the seedling, the roots, trunk and branches.

I bear the fruit. I am the womb of time.

 

I am me, fifty and finally come of age, woman.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

 

It is open link night #190 at d’Verse and so we are encouraged to submit anything we choose, this was part of something I wrote a while back, and I guess it is what I need to believe at the moment. Returning and coming home has been nothing short of gruelling, nothing has been simple at all. It has been a little like hurling yourself from a small cliff into a ferocious and stormy ocean. I have to know deep down that it will come right and that the storm will pass. To do this I have to peel back the layers and remind myself of what I believe I am and then slowly start to pick myself up again.

The image is Ellen and the tree- the second version…and my children are very much a symbol of what I am.