from Rare Birds - Voices of Holloway Prison due to be published by Valley Press November 2019 This poem first published in Orbis Issue 186, February 2019

copyright Natalie Scott 2019

Emily Wilding Davison

Guilty of arson - sentenced to 6 months, 1912

I knew the risks.
Each night they played
like a silent film before my eyes.

But I took them.

Melodrama is my mode.

Take a risk. Then if you pull it off,
you can smooth the deep creases
of the history books, penned
by heavy hands - men's hands.

What other woman could say
her abode was Parliament
(albeit a cupboard) on Census Day?

I was the limelight lady
each time they held me down
and threaded their tubes up
my nostrils. While a sour cocktail
of brandy and milk burned through me,
I saw myself not on the examining chair,
pinned by six men, but in a mise-en-scène
reclining on a chaise-longue,
hugged in silks and feathers,
my six suitors, arms outstretched,
each begging me to let him be the one
to light my cigarette.

This dumbshow played
forty-nine times.

Remember that
when your thought-clogged mind
debates whether
to mark a cross.

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