Sexual Inequality and When She Was Little


Sexual Inequality


Walking home from the metro she sees shadows
on the wall of a building to her right.
The youths’ shadows are bigger

even though she’s in front.
Theirs loom larger, covering hers.
From their voices they are young,

sixteen maybe, laughing and speaking in French.
Their words come so fast she cannot follow.
Maybe they discuss the fact

they will not harm her.
She feels this from their banter, that
they will not follow her when she turns

the corner, not grab nor push her roughly
behind a shrub. Ludicrous to imagine
a hand over her mouth

to block a scream. There will be
no knife, she’s sure, no intimidation
or rape. She can tell

by how loudly they talk,
and by the fact their pace stays the same
as hers grows quicker


When She Was Little


1978: Would sit in his lap,
listen to grownups talk
while the other children
played upstairs. Daddy
rubbed circles on her back
with his fingers.

1990’s: war in Iraq
and George Bush terrorism,
suicide bombings spread
like a mushroom cloud, erupting in Israel,
move away from centre to Bali
and Morocco. Or terrorism
closer to home, young girls
gone missing, body parts washing up
out of Lake Ontario as if
they had bloomed there, and the girls
whose own fathers hurt them.

Why not be small again, with a father
whose lap is safe, chest quiet and strong.
Caramel hands make rings on her skin
that shine and spin, dance. She will lean
into his rough chin, smell the clean oil
of his hair, close her eyes. It’s the seventies.
She hears a stream of words,

That Arafat. They have cause, but does that mean it’s not terrorism?

It will never change…wouldn’t go to Lebanon if you paid me…don’t care if it’s my heritage. Those people are crazy! Always killing each other.

And a mother:


Julie Mahfood is a single mother and a writer with editing experience, and she is graduating this autumn with a Master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Concordia University. In 2009 Julie Mahfood won the Quebec Writers’ Federation 2009 carte blanche Quebec Prize. She has had work published in: Montreal Serai, Literary Review of Canada, CV2, Descant, Antigonish Review, Room, carte blanche, The Caribbean Writer and Grain.