COMMON GROUND: Song Thieves and Safety

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Articles, Common Ground

by Fiona Lovatt

My cousin had the broadest smile, the freest, most open laughter of anyone I have known. As children peeling oranges and writing next to the radio, she would burst into song and name the artist. I saw it as a feat of audio perception that was almost supernatural. I did not know that she would marry a man who would be a tyrant in her life and knock that laughter out of her, and fair few teeth as well.
I did not know the vicar’s daughter would face three days of torture at the hands of a stranger in her own flat in London when she returned from the women’s anti-nuclear protests on Greenham Common. I remember her voice in song, filling the high rafters of the Gothic architecture where the Bible rode on the wooden wings of an eagle and a brass cross was carried ahead of the choir, each in various lengths of lace with colour coded ribbons to mark how many years of service they had filled of those dark pews. She also sang.
I could not know these things.
I remember the small child in the left front of a welcoming assembly when I took up a new position at a school. A hundred small voices sang that day, but Courtneay sang louder, sweeter ,stronger than all of them. She sells books now. I hope she has not been violated in any way. She fumbles a little at the cash register. She is nervous with the plastic bags and her speech is slurred. She knows the books well. She can point you to every avenue of escape. Print has taken her from the weekly routine of the minimum wage where she hawks best sellers and bodice rippers along with the finest of literature. All equal in her eyes.
The happy strains and the open sweetness of all those voices mark the passage now of many years. Each voice, like a bird in childhood lifting those precious young lives of someone’s daughter, someone’s sister into the open space above the temporal zone we inhabit. Who would take these birds and crush them with their bare hands?
What was the story those men brought with them? What children were they, that they have now grown into violence and cruelty and degradation? I have to ask.
I have to ask why women in one part of the world might be stripped naked by a mob in any given moment if someone wishes to call out that fifty naira is missing. I have to ask why school girls on buses are not safe.
Was the song and the purity of a child not enough protection?
Smile-robbers, song-thieves must have a cavern somewhere, a pit, a stinking pit where they collect the torn ribbons from children’s hair. They must have rows of bottles where they shove songs down through the neck of the glass. They must keep torn pages from scripture to plug the gaps where fresh air might blow in through the cracks of the open oil drums they have flattened for their murky lives. Let them be monsters like this rather than our brothers, our fathers, our sons… we ask instead for lives where the heart is open and has reason to lift and be uplifting, ever, always, safe.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the written permission of the publishers.

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

  1. Fiona, you got me wondering if I’m reading a story of one’s voilated cousin or just a sober poem, through to the last line. And I think there were intercalations of both therein, but it seems more article-like, as the usual outlays of a typical poem were often missing in your lines.
    Again, there exists some minor mispelt words and grammatical corrections, proper editing could have ensured, but be that as it may, I thumbs u up for your instructive poem.

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      This is an article, and not a poem. Lady Fiona has a way of infussing both…making poetry and prose to interwine. This is a very good and well written article that exposes the pervert-setting of our society…a girl is always stripped naked when she steals…no matter how little the amount she stole. Ours have become a society where young girls are nolonger safe to walk in the alley alone, or in the corners unaccompanied. No, our society needs counseling, needs cautioning, needs correcting…and this article is a start.

      As for the grammatical error,please pount out where & where in the article that needs editing, because I see them not.

  2. My system can’t actually edit the one or two mispelt words, so I suggest you read it again or perhaps, leave them for “nature” to change.
    The Lady wrote very well. I’m very proud of her prose-cum-poem infussion dexterity

  3. Anene Francis says:

    The manner of descriptions in this write up is superb. Enough respect lady Fiona.
    I second mr Solar. What this write up seem to achieve is exposing in plain light the terrible situation of female (and child) insecurity in our present society and allow those that cause or contribute to it to shed their monstrous skin if their consciences are pricked enough. Not compelled.
    Nice. Keep up the good work.

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