A Few Sample Pages

The Birth of Dogs

     The Woman has no name, not one member of her clan does, names have
not come into being yet.  Words are spoken, words have always been spoken,
in some form, ever since the coming of the Word that forced the world from
darkness, the Word that forced the light.  The Woman, who we will, for
simplicities sake call Eve, lives a difficult life made easier by the fact that
she does not know it.  Her family travel through the plains, making the
tools they need from day to day, curing hides, hunting, foraging and retaining
few possessions.  This is normal.

Things are hard, she struggles to find enough food from day to day to feed
herself and her children, but she makes do, from the sweat of her brow.
She has not yet discovered how to make bread, but she does grind the grain that
she scours fields for in the basin and boils it inside of a skin held over the
communal fire and filled with water.  She eats the resulting gruel without
flavour since she has not yet discovered salt, though the crystals surround
her.  She will, given world enough and time, but the land is still young,
even if Eve is not, her species, still young, barely through the dawn.

Look at her a moment.  Don’t worry, get as close as you want, she can
neither hear nor see you.  Your scent is covered in layers of time; you
are, in fact, invisible.  Look at her thick hair, she lets her daughter
groom it and the adolescent five year old has plaited it so that it rises up
like serpents from her head.  See it shine?  That’s the palm oil that
her daughter used to dress it and to prevent the hairs from breaking.

She is familiar, isn’t she?  She reminds you of someone in your family,
your mother, perhaps, or your grandmother.  Something about her
eyes.  The similarity has to be in the eyes because her coloration is
wrong, she resembles no race walking the earth today though her skin is clear
and healthy, her features have a thick look about them, somewhat rough, as
though unfinished.  She is like a sculpture still being formed.

See the stretch marks on her stomach? Though she would, by our standards, be
considered quite young, she is barely twenty five, by the rules of her
community she is leaving middle age.  Her last child, the one she carried
inside of her until two days ago, will be her last.  She knows this and is
saddened by it.  She has had five all together of which only her daughter
and her almost-man son survive.  The baby she gave birth to the day before
yesterday died last night, in her sleep.  She woke with it blue and silent
beside her on their skin this morning and she burnt the body in the fire and
let the ashes scatter.  By the reckoning of her people the spirit had not
formed yet. Each child lost has scarred her and, because she can not conceive
of any sort of life after death, the scars have stayed fresh and close to
Her breasts ache with useless milk.  No other woman in her clan has had a
child recently, although some are obviously expecting, so there is nothing for
her but to wait until the flow stops.  Until then her breasts will throb,
and throb, with every beat of her heart.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on November 5, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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