At The Heart Of A Bale – A Poem By Carol J Forrester

The shock of it.
A feather brush among brittle spines,
and it’s body,
whole,
a weight unexpected from the straw
I am scattering from these hands.
Fallen,
twice over now,
from rafters, eaves,
hollows above these stables,
the last place this swift would know.

When I was younger and stayed with my grandparents on a regular basis, I used to help with mucking out the stables. I have such vivid memories of picking up a bale of straw, shaking it loose, and a dead bird tumbling out. My grandmother’s explanation was that the bird had died in the rafters and fallen into the bale. I’m not sure if that was actually how it ended up there, but it happened enough times that straw and hay bales have freaked me out slightly ever since. Not a great phobia for someone whose whole family has been involved in agriculture at some point or another. Today’s Quadrille prompt brought this memory bursting to the forefront, so despite my inability to so much as look at dead birds these days, I managed to work it into my response.

In less morbid news, happy International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month! Over the weekend I posted a piece on Britain’s First Female Historian Catherine Macaulay. For those of you who know of Mary Wollstonecraft, Macaulay was a contemporary, and her ‘Letters On Education’ which call for equal education for girls and boys, predates Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’. While it’s not poetry, I would love to hear any thoughts anyone may have on the article as I’m now working on my third ‘Women In History’ piece which looks at the women of the Peasants Revolt in 1381.

#IWD – What It Means To Me

Until five minutes ago I had no idea that tomorrow was International Women’s Day. I knew that the day existed, but it has existed on the periphery of my consciousnesses and I haven’t paid it as much attention as I should have done. Especially as being a woman impacts on pretty much everything I do.

Take for instance my ten year plan. Please ignore the tea stains and the ripped edges, this is very much an ‘under construction’ version of plan.


Ten Year Plan – Commencing June 2015 [Graduation]

  1. Get a Job. [Tick! Working as an Accounts Assistant.]
  2. Finish my AAT Level Two Accountancy Qualification. [Tick. I decided to do this to help with my job and to add another string to my bow so to speak.]
  3. Buy a house. [Tick. The boyfriend and I did this last June.]
  4. Finish my book Shadow Dawn. [62,000 words in and going well.]
  5. Get and agent and a publisher. Publish book.
  6. Get married June 23rd 2018. [No. 5 and No. 6 overlap timewise.]
  7. Try to make enough money as a writer to work at that full time.
  8. Maybe do the ACCA qualification to become an fully fledged Accountant.
  9. Have first child by 25/26? [Before I’m 30. Let’s go with that.]

Having children is number nine on my list not because it’s the least important thing for me to do, but because it’s perhaps the most important thing to me. I’ve never had any doubt that I would be a mum at some point, and it’s one of the things that I’ve built my life plan. But equally, I want to be successful in my career to the point where I can say ‘Yeah. I’m awesome at what I do and I’ve achieved my goals.’

Recently there’s been a flurry of articles, videos and stories about empowered women owning the business world and I love seeing that, but I’ve watched my mother proving that women can be formidable in business since I was a child. You just have to watch her battling it out at the side of the auction ring at Leek Market to see that she can stand toe-to-toe with any man when it comes to getting what she wants.

As a result both my sister and I have always tried to take every opportunity we are given and make the absolute most out of it. At the moment my sister is studying Mechanical Engineering at Southampton and is building robots that can follow paths laid out for them and pick up objects. Something that my great gran told her she couldn’t do because only men were engineers. Her goals?


Jo’s Goals

  1. Work for as a mechanical engineer for a Formula One team
  2. Own a Ferrari/really fast sports car that her sister can’t remember the name of
  3. Be awesome. [Already achieving this to a much higher degree than her sister]

 

npg_catharinemacauNo doubt she has loads more on her list, but my point is she aims for the highest point she can see and doesn’t stop working until she makes it happen.

That is what’s International Women’s Day is to me. A reminder that I don’t have to settle and that the only limits on me are the ones I set myself.

During my history degree I loved finding those women that turned their noses up at the assumption that men were the ones in charge and proved themselves just as clever and inventive.

Catherine Macaulay, who I’ve written about on this blog, was one of those women. She carved out a reputation as a respected historian and intellectual, despite living in an age where academic educations were not considered important for women.

Throughout time we can find example of women proving themselves to be fierce, intelligent and powerful. Take for instance the women’s marches that took place recently. Whether you agree with them or not, they reminded me of the same dignity and ferocity that you see when researching the suffragette movements.

There are times when I bemoan my body. I poke at the bits that I don’t like, fall out with the mirror when my skin misbehaves, and sometimes even wish I was someone else. But in truth, I wouldn’t ever want to be anyone else. I love my body, I love me, I love being a woman.

I can have it all if I want. I just need to work hard enough.

 


Thank you for reading. If you have a moment, tell me about your goals? Are there any crazy dreams that you’re chasing despite the odds being against you? I’d love to hear in the comments below. Let me know, what does IWD mean to you?

This post was kicked off by Today’s Daily Prompt: Ruminate