Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Pretty Door, The Beauty in the Tragedy

Cover of TIME magazine, October 11, 2018

the beauty in the tragedy

In 2006, I published my poetry book, Atlantis, poems about the United States possibly being another Atlantis. One of those poems was The Pretty Door (posted below). I couldn't help thinking of that poem when I saw the latest cover of TIME magazine. The cover is meant, I'm sure, as a tribute to the courage and the veracity of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. I saw all that, and I agreed, yes, she is brave and true, but I also saw something else, something dangerous that perpetrates male entitlement - the beauty in the tragedy. Beauty being beautiful women. Beautiful women as victims. It's an age-old theme of literature and art. How many stories and poems and paintings of beautiful women tossed about by love or war or myth, one breast revealed in the turmoil, whilst standing over her are any manner of monsters and gods. This idea goes way beyond the GOP. They wish they could bottle it and sell it like they have the waters of Michigan. My answer to those who think only old, white Republicans do this - Chappaquiddick. The only difference between the privileged white preppies of the Democratic party is that when they are working, and not partying, they are trying to help, not hurt poor people.

Justice Sexualized

The popular feminist answer right now to all of this injustice is to get women in, to vote for women and somehow that's going to stop male entitlement in the courts. It hasn't so far, as long as women keep wanting to please the powers that be - men. Let me quote Gloria Steinem on this idea, I'm paraphrasing - "Let's get a feminist in the White House; it doesn't necessarily have to be a woman." Let's face it, I just watched three girl suits standing by while one of them blabbed about why she was voting to confirm a criminal. There's a special ring in hell for her, along with Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin and all the women who voted for the Cheeto, another accused rapist.

Three Girl Suits

"Let's get a feminist in the White House; it doesn't necessarily have to be a woman."
- Gloria Steinem

The Pretty Door

This only opens the pretty door

hair eyes nose mouth
this time
God didn’t play a joke

or did He?

Pretty opens 
not the talent door
bend over, clean the bathroom, make the coffee, 
here, take out the trash
not the smart door
bend over, clean the bathroom, make the coffee, here, take out the trash

Pretty opens the rich door

“You are the equal of Kings!”

when she passes
for white bread
in a white world

she’s self-educated
that’s the key

when learning to speak
She mimicked her favorite actresses:
Myrna Loy as Nora Charles
Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane
Meryl Streep as anyone

She practiced grammar and
took an etiquette book from the library

in order to pass

for a short while
angels sing

“She shall have Springtime
wherever she goes.”

“...and, as she passed, 
she took the Spring.”

“Wear a veil to hide your looks - and 
keep it down!”

“Women’s faces have too much power!”

Beautiful women are the last minority
no one will care
if they suffer
except that they look so good doing it
and, when they are murdered,
they make sexy victims on the evening news

every one of them
fears being stopped
by a cop 
on a lonely highway
as much as a black man

they are about as safe as a black man

“He told me to step out of the car… 
he threw me against the car
and frisked me.”

“I rested my hand on the seat next to me.
He took it as an invitation.”

“He was waiting for me…”

“you could sometimes see
her twelfth year in her cheeks or her ninth
sparkling from her eyes;
and even her fifth would flit 
over the curves of her mouth
now and then”

Her face only opens the pretty door
since she was twelve, she couldn’t 
walk down the street 
in peace
lying in a pool of blood
she had a restraining order

don’t sit next to a man unless you want it

“They put us in a trailer, it was so hot in there,
I couldn’t breathe.
I pushed my nose into a crack in the side. 
I thought, this is it.”

“She was sleeping soundly
and upon her eyelashes there lingered tears.”

this still happens in Atlantis

©Patricia Goodwin, 2018

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.

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