Lilith, a poem by Elizabeth Barton at
John Collier (Lilith)



written by: Elizabeth Barton



Dark, beautiful, seductive Lilith
The most feared, abhorred woman
In the pantheon of patriarchy
Has found her laurels in sequestered spaces,
In shamed faces and forbidden places
And emerges with her daring visage,
Perversely triumphant, courageously framed
By her tumbling mane streaming
Emerald and ebony in a star-studded dream.

She crushes men’s hearts with fear
To weaken their strut, who claim
The wombs of women for bargaining currency;
She doesn’t give a damn about the grandchildren –
They are pawns for competing sperm.
She laughs at the lineages of men, who drain
The lives of women in their ordered world.
She shapes her weapons and sharpens her aim
To take back men’s bartering with just gain.

Girls suffered destruction of discernment
All for the sight of a baby’s picture;
We had such stuff forced down our throats
Before we bloomed and began to menstruate.
We were expected to blindly copulate
With men who had no inkling of life
Or love, or how to fornicate. Or be abhorred
For wanting to choose some other path,
Rather than breed and populate, and go on all fours.

What is required to take back our life?
What is the royal road to freedom but defiance?
What about a teacher at school who presumed
I was strange because I was not consumed by boys
Although I perceived them as my equal?
How he wanted to be gallant and smart!
He wanted my attention ruined by false pursuits;
I was more in love with creating art;
To his agenda, I jarred; I didn’t suit.

Punishment follows the ship of fools
With the tale of 10-year-old girls at a school
In ’70s Australian education, taken out of class
And lined up for internal examination,
To ensure their parts functioned for their role
As future baby-makers. No one grasped
The absurdity of the notion, or the obscenity –
Or was it a feint for a sinister motive?
How can you read a child’s seed within a child?

I trace my form in Lilith, in the rivers
Of her hair, her shadow upon the threshold,
Absorbed in her reflection, wildly steeped
In her abolished history as she forms my breath
And stipulates the drive of my incarnation, to live
At the edge of conformity, to reach for boundless
Expression, to strive for unfettered bounty;
I write my own life upon imperishable stone
To make the watchword of my imperative known.

We are born as Lilith in one form or another;
We will not be judged by our weight, our looks
Or the worth of our womb, to be bought or sold;
This is mine, the kingdom of my bodily form,
There is no price upon it; container of stars,
A closed book of galaxies to be awakened
In the finest filigree of moisture, like seeds
Awaiting the stirring of the furthest night
Imprinted, ready in the moment of life.



The events described concerning an Australian school in the ’70s are factual.

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