I’m afraid of everything, even my own nakedness.
That’s the secret. I shrink away from mirrors lest I see how much space I am able to consume.
I shrink and wonder if this is me,
a warped translation of oneself and which of us chose to come here.
I shrink for fear that I see how much I might contain.
I second guess my eyes. They called me ‘To See’ and I do. There is no switch to turn it off so
I See I See I See.
I cover up, once I conceive It cannot be unborn and unknown.
I don’t mean claiming ignorance
but innocence. Or so they tell me. When you know too much.
Womanliness is so potent, they try to outrun and possess it from the inside out.
Weaponise and justify.
I’d like to rub it off, rub it raw.
My earliest memory was my father’s hate for Jezebel.
A messianic priest he spat her name often.
Jezebel, The pagan queen who turned her husband to worship her alien gods.
Jezebel. The ones that fertilised the earth with the blood of their moons because they understood the power of the feminine.
Jezebel, the woman singularly blamed for Israel’s biblical apostasy.
The woman, the master, the manipulator. Because she sees and she speaks.
She converts fortresses to dust.
Bêtes noires to lovers.
Jezebel, A waitress who was rude to him. Jezebel, the female parking attendant to dare retort to his angry exclamation at the raise of the parking prices. Jezebel, the arrogant angry woman in the government office.
What a Jezebel.
I didn’t even know who she was.
I visualised her through long flowing black hair, violet eyes, and blood-red lips.
I did know she was a bad woman, evil, a kind of enemy.
Yet that phrase that came from his mouth could turn my young hands to whitened fists
I was born to be enraged.
Then I was accidentally raised to be like the kind of woman he hated.
I’m sure that they all were. Accidentally raised to become the enemy.
The shameful, the wicked, and the despised. With an arrogant glint in their eyes, an instigating lift of a chin.
Our mouths transform into weapons of war and we utilise the tongue to bring a man to his knees in pieces.
There is a girl child I want to cover with my body. Shield.
But there is also a teenager with blue hair and a middle finger pointed at the world showing too much
and a grown woman of twenty with a steady job and a healthy diet showing just enough.
There’s me avoiding mirrors because if I look through them
I may just break them all.
They, her, she, me, us
crazy, psycho, dramatic, too much, attention-seeking, it keeps us shut up shut down.
Shameful wicked women.
The kind who are made of undying embers enduring, scorching.
The kind of women who never stop fighting because they never want to feel what it’s like to be powerless again. They never want others to feel that powerlessness.
What makes a witch a witch? I asked him. She manipulates.
I am a witch burned at Salem because I knew your lies before you uttered them
I smelled them on you.
Your touch may break my bones but mine will burn holes through your being into your most vulnerable place
where the little boy hides foetal waiting for an encounter with transforming love.
If you choose – my touch will make you whole.
Written by Jess Riddle
Photograph by Jess Riddle