A poem by Magi Gibson as part of our coverage of 16 Days to End Violence Against Women and Girls.


My aunt’s funeral – my first – I’m twelve or maybe just tipped into being a teen. In the gloomy, flower-filled living room my uncle grips her coffin as they try to move it to the waiting hearse, throws his body on the polished oak, shrieking as if Death itself has skewered him on a sharpened pike of pain. All day his squealing shrieking screaming swells & swills around us, till we are drowning in the sound of his distress. I barely knew this aunt. My father’s sister. Four foot nine. Tiny as a wren. Pretty as a doll when young – sweet-natured too – the minister at the graveside says. On the long drive home, I haltingly confide how harrowing I found the funeral. To see a man so thoroughly destroyed by grief all he could do was howl, a wounded animal in pain. ‘He must have loved her very much,’ I say. ‘I hope he’ll be okay.’ My mother draws her breath in sharp. The windscreen wipers scrape as rain spits at the darkening glass. A chill descends inside the car, as if a ghost is drifting through the space. ‘I hope he rots in hell,’ my mother quietly says. ‘That bastard beat her every day she was his wife.’ Against the deepening black outside the windscreen wipers thud & thud & thud & quietly squeal.


Magi Gibson’s Wild Women of a Certain Age is being re-issued in a 21st anniversary edition after being out of print for some years. You can buy it here.

Also details of a launch event here.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    Of course he was upset!..who else could he get( smaller than himself) to batter.
    I always say a smattering of Harpic toilet cleaner in his tea is handy….

  2. Mons Meg says:

    Kinda reminds me of a remark an auld woman made back in the late ’80s, while we were looking at a backgreen photo from her childhood in North Leith from about 1920. She pointed at the wee withered face of a nine-year-old girl and said, “Aye, SHE was gettin’ interfered wi’ at home, puir wee sowel. Ev’rybody kent it; teachers, neebors… ev’rybody. But they didnae bother in thae days.”

  3. Chris Connolly* says:

    An International Year Against All Violence would be great. One day that nobody notices is, I’m sorry to say, a waste of time.

    Males are actually more likely to be victims of violent crimes than females, though I’m sure much violence against women goes unreported and doesn’t appear in crime statistics. Perpetrators are much more likely to be male than female. Just as the #MeToo movement has enabled women to report their experiences of unwanted sexual behaviour, men could do with something similar on the basis that “getting beaten up is part of growing up.”

    It would help is macho male behaviour wasn’t so celebrated. People flock to the pictures to see James Bond kill foreigners and have sex with beautiful women, and we are supposed to love him for it!

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