We Need to Talk About Susan
On each weekday, when early worms are not yet awake
she stands in front of the mirror, lip stick in hand
and readies her pale armour for another perforated day.
Marcus is still in bed, the man a muscular specimen
of good humour and gentle, gracious brain.
Their friends have already thought of chapels and rings
but the couple are content cohabitants of a cherished blissful home.
She kisses him, and then slips to the kitchen
armed for the day with an amorous dress
and nylon stockings.
Her clients at work are varied, cheery criminals and
down-trodden divorcees, desperately wishing to keep
a family home devoid of familiarity.
One she suggests mediation, another should search
for a good, crisp, criminal lawyer.
The rumours are hard to disregard
swirling around the office, suggesting in seductive whispers
she will be made the successor of Mr Daniels,
a partner in the firm.
It is obvious after all, her overfilling career
crammed with victories, vast successes
and a humour and personality that papers over
all people’s hurt.
There are even murmurs about Her Majesty
appointing her a judge, for this just and gentle queen
is perfect for the job.
Mr Daniels’s only annoyance, daft as it may be
is her pro bono work, bound tightly
in her spare time, sharing her skills
to help those too hindered to otherwise afford it.
The first attack comes, awful and without warning.
They care little for consent or good manners
coming into her life, demanding concern and attention.
She sees the bodies, soft tissue rend by steel
and for a second she is some little child
left to deal with devastating adulthood alone.
She does not falter, for frankly life does not care
and with a great, gasping lungful of air
she returns to work, well-applied make-up
hiding the grey paleness of her grieving pallor.
By evening, the ensuing attacks
have come and gone, and with great effort
she pulls herself to some pulsating party
where people sing and prance.
Most important of all, it makes her smile
and who can harbour such hatred and vile
at laughter and light-filled happiness.
Marcus arrives, his mouth soon on hers
and with booming voice, bores anyone with stories
of his glorious “god-damn sexy not-quite wife”.
She laughs and blushes, and because it makes her happy
she plays her role, purring and prancing
to the joy of the room.
Her goddaughter is awoken by the great festivities
and Susan sends herself to help the girl to sleep.
The girl is so sad and Susan tells stories
of menacing witches and meaner lions,
and the girl screams, stamps her feet,
loving every second of the very special story.
She hugs her godmother, giving her a wide smile,
showing wonderful white teeth,
but refuses to let go, restricting Susan’s arms
as the girl begins to sob.
Laughing kindly, kissing her on the forehead,
Susan asks what is wrong, wishing to nurse
any pain from the poor girl.
She tells her the wardrobe makes certain noises
and Susan is more scared, more scarred
than ever she thought she could be.
Taking a chair, then taking another
she stacks them tight, removing the temptation
of ever opening the door.
“There, little one,” she lightly smiles,
“no one can hurt you now”.
When Marcus and her meanders back to their house
she pauses at the pewter door-knocker
a lion, that looks like some limp little mouse.
It was her choice to choose such an ornament
just like how her life is hers to live.
And it reminds her, roaring every day,
that what lies behind her door is beautiful and perfect
because it is hers, because she is free,
and not at the mercy of some capricious lion
who is just but a mouse.
(c) James Rowland 2015
All Right Reserved.