Tar and Feathers

by Peter Etherson

I AM.                        (like Cú Chulainn strapped to a lamp post)


I am a woman.           

                                 I am not a soldier doll


I am not afraid 

                                 I am not a dirty whore


I am afraid.

                                 I am not a bloody wee tramp              


I am wet


I am defiant              


I am resigned


I am humiliated.        

                                   I am not a traitor


I am helpless 

                                   I am not deserving of this


I am hurting


I am alone

                                   I am not betraying my sisters


I am a breaker of unwritten rules


I am your myth


I am your prejudice


I am your sectarianism 


I am your hatred


I am your fear


I am your hurt


I am your paranoia 


               I am as an oak tree


               I am of Ireland (and holy Ireland) 


               I am your sister


               I am your salvation


I am Paris

I am Berlin

I am Kherson

I am where war is


I am a woman.


Martha Doherty before and after she was tarred and feathered in an attack made on her in Derry 10th Nov 1971

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in Poetry as Commemoration workshops held at The Belfast Linen Hall Library, Belfast, in 2022. The workshops were led by Maria McManus.