I was not quite sixteen
- a fearful child in a god-fearing part of nowhere.
They taught us to obey.
We learned to pray.
We learned what was forbidden.
I learned to be ashamed.
I tried to banish thoughts I thought were sinful.
I tried to hide but became
awkward, shy and foreign to affection.
I closed my eyes.
Cobwebs gathered to my soul.
I did not understand
why the stranger came from her far-off land
to visit our town;
a glimpse of life unknown:
calm, confident exotic smile, eyes shining,
and all the boys spoke in wonder and admired.
"I like the progressions" [Saria]
Crucifixion nailed my childhood.
No saviour suffered my pains
'til she came and truly
gently removing my chains.
Cultural anthropological research finds that one consistent function of religions
is social control. Sometimes this control takes forms which are autocratic, unreasonable,
painfully intrusive and which go against nature. What happens to children raised
in such circumstances? Jeanette Winterson’s book “Oranges are not the only fruit”
provides one example. “Forbidden” allows glimpses of another.
When dusk sent my friends home
alone I lingered in the half-light of the wasteland.
Emerging from the gloom,
a foreign shape to my surprise approached me.
She approached me,
and she smiled as if she knew.
We walked beside the stream,
the town lights twinkling ever fainter behind us.
A gentle cool night breeze
stroked the trees and set them all a-swaying
and I swayed too - not due to currents of the air.
Dance to a forbidden drum.
Wake, wake a forbidden need.
Reach through to me, yet forbidden.
Let searching forbidden hands find hidden forbidden skin.
Coax passion's forbidden flames deep within.
And beneath the stars we sat down.
She stilled my trembling hands.
And the heavens dark parted the clouds to reveal the Moon.