Barbara A. Taylor
Her boyfriend warned me, saying she
was sick and shy. Unsociable.
Cannot look you in the eye.
A subdued skeleton of a woman
whose life thus far one of
constant pain, fear, hurt.
Facial scars. Broken teeth. Battered
by drunken men and women. Trapped
in sour relationships. Packaged
from the start, labeled.
As a child she'd watched her mother slave,
bring new life to refectory floors, genuflect,
sing, make chapel candelabras blinding bright.
Several miles, she'd walk, barefoot to school,
this dark-skinned child from the town's outskirts.
If late, those nuns would punish her and frown.
No Shoes! Wicked girl! They'd force her to a
classroom corner, strip her naked, leave her
standing all day long. They'd whip her in
God's Will, rip repentance from her soul.
Scream, Hell is where you'll go!
I offered her some country comfort; hot
soda scones with blackberry jam, strong tea.
She smiled, then took to the garden for solitude.
For hours she stayed away. She prayed.
Perhaps it was that rustic arch of creeping
banksia rose, a familiar fragrance from the past,
or a bouquet of flowers she'd picked, laid by
my stone altar, that stirred her shaky voice.
My heart embraced her sorrow. I marveled at her
joy in bracts, sepals and petals. She had
lost all contact with her home, all family.
Today she lives in a rat-infested rented house
with no window-glass. Rotten floorboards wobble.
Cockroaches, skinks scuttle. There isn't even any
hot water. She prays for her still instilled sins.
She picked fresh blooms of every color:
shades of reds, blues, yellows. When I
showed her hand-beaten brass plates from India
with their intricate floral designs, her eyes lit up
in ecstasy, some glory that we both did see.
With sheepskin rag and cleaning spirit
she buffed those plates for hours, her
head stooped, her nose almost against
the brass; blue eyes scrutinizing; working
her wrists and fingers, touching, rubbing
every dot and groove. Proudly, she presented
two glowing orbs to me. In changing rays
their colors truly lift. She's now making strings
of tinted-glass bead-curtains to hang from windows,
doors and ceilings. Busy catching crystal'd lights,
spangled hues, making her own world come alive
in shining colored highlights.
© 2007 Barbara A. Taylor
About the Poet:
Barbara A. Taylor
is published or forthcoming on Triplopia, Lynx, NewVerseNews, Ribbons, Stylus, The Salt River Review,
Cezanne s Carrot, Flashquake, Poets Against The War, Tattoo Highway, The Yellow Bat Review,
The Blue Fifth Review, Wisteria, Kaleidowhirl, Simply Haiku, Contemporary Haibun On-Line,
and others. She is inspired by her Rainbow region in northern NSW, Australia and is a regular
at local poetry nights. Her poetry with audio is HERE.