My Body, My Protest: After Mon Laferte

In silence, I stand

Nipples bared and bowed

To the bravery of the stolen

Of the forgotten voices

Of the raped

Of the tortured

Of those killed in the name of freedom

 

I bare my body

I surrender this suit

I plaster truth

I carve it into the bones of me

Until the world hears

 

En Chile torturan violan y matan.

 

“In Chile they torture, rape and kill.”

Commentary: My Body, My Protest (After Mon Laferte)

The story behind the poem My Body, My Protest, begins with me stumbling into bed at 4:30am, slightly (or not so slightly) intoxicated after a night out dancing. I was doing the habitual scroll through my Instagram timeline when I came across an E! News post detailing the events occurring at the Latin Grammy’s. This is where I first saw Mon Laferte’s political red carpet protest moment, where she completely bares her chest to strategically raise awareness of the grotesque acts of police brutality taking place in Chile right now.

Chile is currently experiencing a season of political unrest as thousands exercise their political right to protest. Protesters are taking to the streets to express their fury at the establishment and are demanding social reforms to address the high levels of inequality the country is experiencing.

Here is a useful link for more details on what is happening/has happened in Chile during the protests:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-50512093?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c452lzylemmt/chile-protests&link_location=live-reporting-story 

In summary, 22 people have been killed as a result of excessive police force, while thousands have been seriously injured, tortured and/or sexually assaulted. These are absolutely abhorrent acts of injustice and I was profoundly moved by this whole situation, compelling me to write something about it then and there. I deeply admire Mon Laferte for using her platform to raise awareness of the human rights abuses that are happening all over the world. Mon Laferte reminded us all that our bodies are not merely sexual tools, they are powerful vessels – holding, giving and supporting life.

Here Mon Laferte chose to use her body to express a significant message. She utilised the power of the naked female form to highlight our human right to protest, to challenge norms, to shake systems, to change the world.

Gethsemane

There will be times you are at your lowest points

When anguish engulfs you and there is nowhere left to run

And the words of our loved ones fall flat, hallow

 

No one can meet you in this darkness

And the support will seem lack lustre

Will seem disingenuous

Will be flawed

And you retreat within, in solitude

Praying away this poison chalice

This cup of suffering

In a manic display

Until your legs give way and succumb

To the gravity of surrender

 

And then

Beyond the unrest

Beyond the disquiet of your anxiety

The starring of the still small voice

Overtakes you to reveal

 

“Beyond this pain

Beyond this bitter suffering

And far beyond what your mind can perceive

Lays a promise, a hope,

A purpose for all that be

Rooted in my immeasurable love

 

And, oh, how I love you,

Cherished one

One day you will see

The glory and the splendour

Of an eternity with me.”

 

And as these words leave me

Some things do stay

Like the peace that passeth understanding

To guide me on my way.

Commentary: Gethsemane

I was in my room reading Matthew 26:36-46 and I was struck by the sheer humanness of Jesus. The lines –

38 “and he said to them, ‘The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.’

– hit me first and birthed the opening lines of my poem Gethsemane. We have all experienced extremely low and painful moments in our lives, what this passage reveals to us is that Jesus has been there too. In my weakest and most heartbroken, when the sorrow in my heart was so great it almost crushed me – God has felt this too. I am floored that this is a Love and this is a God who intimately knows my suffering and that through suffering I can grow deeper in my relationship with Christ.

The lines –

40 “Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, ‘How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour?'”

– hit me next and I felt the disappointment Jesus must have felt in that moment when he found his disciples asleep. The experience of being disappointed by your friends and loved ones is profoundly universal and I wanted to capture that my poem as much as I could. People let us down and the weight of that disappointment can be enormously heavy but I have found in my experiences of disappointment God can meet you there and help you carry that weight (and even take it away).

Journal entry: Seasons change

Looking back at Seasons Change I can see how the inspirations that drove the poem really shine through. One being this poem:

“Of all the people you have kissed she was your favourite because she didn’t flinch when you curled your hand around her neck and tightened. She said “I break the law because I’ve never broken a heart and I want to know what it feels like to be the brick not the window pane”. When she’s drunk she’ll dress up for you, all straps & lace & stockings. When she’s high she’ll dress down for you, all skin & skin & skin.” – by Annabelle Nyst

These powerful, delicate lines have followed me for over 5 years, still affecting me each time I read them and I wanted to write a poem that carried the same energy and life (a very hard task but at least I tried).

From what started off as a few lines, my poem gained a life of its own as I got really involved with the idea that I wanted this poem to be about love, to about a relationship that goes through natural seasons. A love that grows from an intense infatuation into a mild disdain, leading to an eventual break up. I wanted this poem to really embody the imagery of earth’s four seasons (here’s hoping I achieved that??).

When I wrote “Seasons Change” in 2017, it may have been a few months after a month long romance I had that I couldn’t say inspired this poem entirely as the love presented in this poem is grounded in a long-standing relationship that I had yet to experience. But I find it so interesting how  I can transfigure my experience, of a short whirlwind romance, into a poem about a true love relationship that grew cold over time and only freedom from that relationship could bring my protagonist back to the warmth of her own self love. But I guess that’s the beauty of art and partially fictional prose.

I can relate to this poem a lot more now after recently coming out of a relationship and feeling the comfort and relief that can come from a much needed time alone. It’s interesting to think that this poem kind of foreshadows things I was yet to experience. But that could be a result of time being an illusion, that the dividing line between past, present and future is an illusion, that everything that has happened or will happen is happening right now in this very moment but we are unable to perceive it. But I digress…

This poem is about a seasonal love affair that contains the same torrid energy as the weather, holding the same beauty and inescapably mystery.

Your Truly,

Ruth Elora -x-

P.S. Read ‘Seasons Change‘ if you haven’t yet, love ya xx

 

Seasons Change

You were my climate

I would bend & yield to your slightest variation

When you were my sun, I would dress down for you, all skin, melanin, exposure

Blanketed by your warmth

 I vacationed in your love

 

Until the season called for your coldness

I would grimace & endure your presence

Like a sore throat in recovery

 

The autumns of your indifference

Brought with it a kaleidoscope of mystery

As the leaves fell from our dreams

Unrealised

We marvelled at the unsettling paradox

That the beauty of our ideals may never be fully actualised

But the beauty stands unwavering

All the same

 

The winter of our love

Brought with it a necessary mourning

As I purged you, heart and soul

Piercing through with icy precision

I allowed it to hurt

I gloried in the courage it took to brave your coldness

To endure

Until the last morsel of this blizzarding love

Melted away

 

Bringing forth a spring of reflection

Of clarity

As I meditated on all the reasons I had to leave:

That no matter how hard I adapt

To your vicissitudes

Your endless variations

I found myself staring

Perpetually

At this ticket back

To myself

 

For my heart is a tropical island

Of dreams & beauty & irresistible warmth

Until my rain comes like a hot baptism

Ready to cleanse & make a new

To saver in the promise of a warmer tomorrow

 

And for now, maybe that’s what I need more

As I vacationed in your temperate maritime climate

It is time for this sojourning solider to return home

Saturday Night Baby

Tonight we dance.

With Electrified bodies

With minds floating far from concerns,

 

Tonight we riot.

All leather skirts and red lips to the ready

We use our fashion to scream at convention

At the uniform

At the mundane business of the working.

 

For tonight is Saturday

Every hour of this night is our own.

So let us lavish in laughter, in dancing and gin

As we brace ourselves for the week to begin.