For International Women’s Day: Helen Ivory




Anger in Ladies &c

. . .makes a beauteous face deformed and contemptible. . .
and separates Roses and Lilies, by quite removing one or the other
out of the Ladies cheeks . . . (The Ladies’ Dictionary John Dunton 1684)


The ladies are ripping roses and lilies to rags.
They are broadcasting them like bruised confetti,
trampling them into the carpet
so the parlour reeks of death,
or the mask of death – death spangled up –
death sullying the carpet.

The ladies are rendering themselves contemptible,
they are pollen-stained and beastly,
they are pawing the floorboards.

Now they will lecture you
on how to wear your hair, Mr Dunton –
how to cover your shame.
They are sharpening their bread knives.





Helen Ivory is a poet and visual artist and edits IS&T. Her fifth Bloodaxe collection is The Anatomical Venus (May 2019). She is a tutor for the UEA/NCW creative writing programme. A chapbook Maps of the Abandoned City was published by SurVision Press in January.

Note: This poem is taken from The Anatomical Venus, which is available to pre-order here:

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