(from a photo accompanying Emma Humphreys’ obituary)
Emma called you Tiger:
a big name for a little cat.
Her case changed the definition of provocation
to include accumulated violence.
You blink away from the sunlight:
outside is bright with trial and error.
She had blinked in the prison exit’s sunlight,
the brightness of her own flat.
Let’s count your tabby stripes.
Say fifteen for kittenhood.
At fifteen she ran away
to Nottingham’s inner city streets.
Let your sandpaper tongue wash
your dull metal-grey fur.
She used a knife on the pimp
about to rape her again.
Let’s count two more stripes
as you stretch onto your long spine.
She was sentenced to seven years,
but served ten.
You’ve no problem with appetite.
Over three years you watched her diminish.
Count thirty stripes of your silver.
.Inspired by a photo that accompanied an obituary of Emma Humphreys. Published in Let’s Shout About It, an anthology to raise funds for support services for survivors of sexual abuse, and on ABCTales.com.
Emma Lee’s collection “Yellow Torchlight and the Blues” is available from Original Plus. Her poems and stories have been widely published in anthologies and magazines and she’s published a novel, “Bitter Fame”.
Emma Lee blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com/. A knee injury forced her out of the ice-rink and she found herself hanging around with bands until she swapped beer-sticky floors for the comforts of cinemas. She lives in Leicester.