The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Portrait of a Woman Walking Home by Anne Casey

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Alaina Hanchey, is from Portrait of a Woman Walking Home by Anne Casey, released by Recent Work Press in 2021.


content warning for violence against women

With a practiced twist, the man on tv
is prising open the fragile mouth,
probing tender flesh unable to resist,
orbs of sunlight string glistening water behind.
Inside the injured tissue, he leaves a small stone—
in time, it will grow a pearly cyst
to smooth over the rough intrusion.

In the jumble of a city flea market once,
I couldn’t resist
a string of aged pearls, their soft peach glow
alluring from velvet folds—
I realise now why
no matter how I would twist them,
they would find a way to choke.

How a man’s hand can close
over a small mouth, encircle a throat—
unable to resist, injured tissue accepts the stone.
I almost drowned once, refound how words
won’t form in the absence of air.
If I could form the words now,
I would tell you how you can drown on dry land.

Never take me to an oyster farm—
all those closed mouths
not forming words under water,
slowly growing over their own small stones.
There are places where a woman can be stoned for failing
to resist a man, her pulped flesh left
to ripen around the stones.

Originally from the west of Ireland and living in Sydney, Anne Casey is author of five poetry collections. A journalist and legal author for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in The Irish Times‘ Most Read. Anne has won literary awards in Ireland, Australia, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA, most recently American Writers Review 2021 and the Henry Lawson Prize 2022. She is the recipient of an Australian Government scholarship and a bursary for her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney where she researches and teaches.

Alaina Hanchey, known as Harley to both friends and foes, believes rhetoric is intensely important and the way we speak can change the world. That belief was shared by her best friend, Quinn Arielle Kerlin, who inspired her to volunteer and immerse herself in those words that matter, and the connections that matter.

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