A letter to a wish...
I wish I could say I’m sorry. I wish I could apologise for everything you have been through. Starting with the woman whose heart was painted black with an apple in her hand. I want to scoop you all up and whisper it into your ears. I wish I was an enormous giant so I could gather you all together, hold you close to my Kilamanjaro of a bosom, and give you all your secrets back.
To those ancient girls who were born under stars and hidden in caves, and those women who were ordered to keep their goddesses quiet, or whose icons were stuffed away, their ancestral eternal flames stubbed out like cigarettes – I wish I could have tattooed your words on the hemisphere of my giant back to keep your libraries safe.
To the first slave women, whose bodies were used to bear children they never got to see, whose language was ripped from their lips, whose spells were stomped on.
To those taken from their warm homes and put on the backs of horses, forced onto ships and passed around like toys for grown men, whose skin was the wrong shade of culture, who fought till their nails bled – I wish I could have reached down with my arms thick as the Milky Way and pulled you from the pain.
To all those who believed men when they said that women are wicked, evil creatures, or that they weren’t allowed to make decisions because they get their period, or it was their fault for what they were wearing, or they shouldn’t have been out alone, that they had it coming, or they can’t because they’re just a girl, or God didn’t love them if they didn’t bear sons, or that God didn’t love them at all – I wish you didn’t have to hear that. I wish my timeworn stone-pillar fingers, covered in moss,could muffle your ears.
To all those daughters who were born disappointments, to those mothers who hated themselves and cursed their own bellies as a result, to those little girls forced down the aisle to stand with an old man, a cruel man, a heartless man, a loveless man, a violent man – I wish I could calm your panicked hearts, lift your veils and kiss your brows with my shoreline lips.
To those who were punished for having miscarriages, to those who woke in the night screaming, their white sheets dyed red, their tears slapped from their faces – I wish you knew that it wasn’t your fault.
To those left for war, widowed and abandoned, to those who weren’t allowed an opinion, who believed themselves inferior, who were placed in the dark alone as an incubator for the heir of a king, for an heir with balls, for a billionaire businessman, for the man of the house, because it can’t be a house without one – I wish I could borrow the sun and light your darkened rooms.
To those whose love was called witchcraft, their hips told not to swing, their lips told not to part, their hands told not to hold, their tongues told to never be bold. To those who knew the ways of nature and were blamed for terrifying weather, wars, murder and chaos, who stupefied priests, who disobeyed and died screaming, shot with feathered pens, burnt with consecrated candles and hung with the string of their holy robes. To those whose ancestors couldn’t save them, whose prayers had no effect. To those whose stories were left untold on blank pages in history – I wish I could bundle you up in my mountain-range embrace, and fill my veined rivers with ink so you can correct these wrongs.
To those who gave birth without so much as a freakin’ Panadol, or who became ill and were told it was punishment, who were kept in dungeons and basements, or back rooms, or distant towns – I wish I could rock you softly in my crescent-moon cradle.
To those who were treated so badly they themselves became cruel and infected entire bloodlines – I wish you epiphanies.
To those little ones brought up in nunneries, who were told their natural desires were a disease, their menstruations the work of the devil, a monthly curse – I wish I could fill my giant salt-lake heart with your tears and use it to baptise the ignorant.
To those who betrayed their sisters and never pleaded forgiveness. To those whose husbands wandered into other bedrooms, leaving cold sheets behind. To those who lived in perpetual fear, whose eyes never once looked up, to those girls who were taken from a farmhouse to a palace against their will, whose fathers tried to hide them, their beauty their curse. To all those who lived as prisoners in paradise, their faces hot with outrage – I wish I could scoop you up in the crystal lakes of my palms and let you float there till you are cool.
To those who were ashamed, to any who were shamed, to anyone who ever shamed a girl for being attacked, raped or beaten – I wish I could forgive you.
To anyone who spoke up about freedom or feminism, who started a revolution, who rallied, changed, created or fought – I wish I could encircle you with meteorites to deflect the slings and arrows that come your way.
To those brave hearts who swelled with service and joined the army, only to be humiliated and belittled – I wish I could encase you in the strongest metals from the earth and furnish you with unbreakable swords.
To those who painted, sculpted wrote, designed or invented something spectacular only to have their husbands take credit.
To those who were told they shouldn’t drive a car because of hot flushes, and that new vacuum cleaners were a revolutionary kind of freedom, who received an ironing board for their birthday, who were given the Pill as a liberation but really just to make them more available, no strings attached, when free love turned out to be mostly about guys sleeping around, and the other pills were to keep you quiet and presentable, and by the way the boss is coming to dinner – I wish I could wake you from what turned out to be a dumb dream, so you could drive to work and take your seat at the boardroom table.
To those who felt the need to inject their faces with disease to feel young, to those who felt they were inadequate and put fake salt pillows in their breasts, broke their own noses, cut their own skin, or made themselves sick in the name of thin – I wish you already felt beautiful.
To those who were so scared of ageing they poured chemicals on their faces, terrifying their teenage children, who had always thought their mothers were the most magnificent creatures on earth – I wish I could swoop in with my mirror the size of the sky and show you what your children see.
To all the weak mothers who didn’t protect their daughters from leather belts, backs of hands or turning midnight doorknobs – I wish I could’ve strengthened you.
I wish I could have wielded Saturn’s rings to shield every woman who was ever Jill Meagher or any woman that was just taken from the street.
I wish I had that power.
To those who burned with ambition only to be told their job is strictly to be mothers, wives, cooks and cleaners. To those who aren’t allowed to have an education, to those who had to read books in secret and undertake clandestine classes – I wish I could build you a castle for a school, complete with silver soldiers to protect your beautiful minds. I wish my brain was the size of the universe, able to store a billion solutions to a million problems.
To the women who were told not to try, to stick to being supportive, to swallow ambition, to those who tried and were laughed away, or who succeeded and were jeered and insulted, and held to different standards, hounded out of positions of power, or who were thought unsuitable for leadership because they had young children to take care of, or because they didn’t have young children to take care of – I wish I could arch my back and push up islands in the sea beneath your bobbing chaff bags, so you could climb out and start new and better worlds, or at least try and fail, like anyone else.
I wish I could stretch out my Amazon river of a spine, sail all of you to these islands, across cultures, lands, tribes, generations, religions and eons, so we could talk, share our stories, lace our hearts together to form a bridge so long that it reaches all the way to the next generation, so they know whatever happens they have us, they can tap into this giant pulsating suspended wisdom at any moment, they are never alone.
And when they hear people say that all girls are bitches and that women can’t work together, or that they shouldn’t speak, up, or that they’re too emotional to be CEOs, or that their life has no worth simply because they were born female, they’ll laugh. Because they know about this crazy ancient heart bridge.
I wish I could hurl myself back in time, to the first season, to the debut episode, to the pilot, and let the girl with the apple know that people are going to try and make out that she was an add-on accessory to Adam, that people will try and pretend she’s a slave and not a creator, that her job was to serve man not God, or the God that man decided.
I want her to be strong, tell the truth, and show her daughters there’s no need to ever be afraid.
I wish there was no need to ever be afraid.
To all the women who ever existed over the entire span of human history,
I wish you knew, I’m sorry.
This piece was written for all my lady-heroes who, if I started to count I'd need to tape together every episode of Sesame Street that ever aired, ever. You know who you are x
This Letter was first published on the Ubud Writers Festival website and they are asking for more! Get cracking here!