Women This State Hates Us, by Sarah Clancy


Sarah Clancy is The Irish People’s Poetry Champion 201

Women This State Hates Us.

In case you had managed to misremember
how much our country hates us
along comes another woman needing shelter;
because someone transgressed against her
she needs help from us, just for the moment
until all this is behind her,
and do we make her welcome?
Does she get the help she needs? Ah
you know the answer: does she hell-
this country hates the likes of her
this country rapes the likes of her,
we will leave her with her bodily integrity in tatters
while psychiatrists fight it out about her psyche
and no-one will ask her opinion
on what’s to be done
she is not considered sentient
and our state penetrates her
over and over and over –

she will be incorporated as evidence
in a poisonous debate that skims over how
very many ways the state we’ve built
is willing to degrade us, she’ll get a code name
and become a touchstone, something (not someone)
that we can talk about in concerned tones
on Marion Finucane and we’ll shake our heads
and say it’s clear now that our state hates us
as if we hadn’t always known it
as if we haven’t always felt it
as if it hasn’t been the subtext of our paths
through life to womanhood

men friends it’s clear now too,
that if you’re so inclined you can rape us,
and in all but a few cases you’ll serve no sentence
not only that but if we stay on this little island
you could make us pregnant
without our consent and just wait
for our institutions to force motherhood upon us
and they’ll do it- they’ve proved it
even if they have to perforate our mouths with tubes
and force feed us, even if they have to sedate us
then slice our wombs open with surgical knives,
they can and obviously will do it,in this state of ours medical professionals
will daub make up on our dead faces
in the futile hope that if they pretend
we’re alive they can make us have babies-
see ? Even death doesn’t end it,
and deep down we always knew this:
we knew Savita Halappanavar
we knew the Kerry Babies
we knew of lonely deaths on wet days in Granard
and the A,B, C, and X cases

and the fortunate amongst us, the ones with resources know what ferry terminals
look like at night time and how much it costs
to raise a child in all sorts of currencies,
we know if we are or aren’t up for it
there should be no shame in that but here, well,
we must keep it secret because of how much
our state hates us, when we have sex with men
we take the risk of ending up in hospital
in a country where if you’re a pregnant woman
‘state care’ is an oxymoron,
it’s a shame to say that as long as we have the capacity
to bear children, Ireland is not safe for us;
women, rise up, this country hates us
it’s long past time we changed it,
let’s not rest until we’ve changed it.


If you liked this find more of Sarah Clancy’s Poetry here, or check out our highly recommended books by Dave Lordan & Karl Parkinson.