After Hannah

by Ceinwen Hall

On my small screen I replay 
Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette
                                        And my anger builds     with hers
Years back, sitting with Aunty
Her busy home, for a moment, stilled
We talk of relationships between women 
In our family, often uneasy
               There is silence 
                                        Before our conversation moves
                                                                                           To dark spaces
Where slowly
We divulge
Speaking in fragments
We piece together stories
                           Until recognition
                                                     Is felt in silence
No woman in our family has escaped
And to each, her own perpetrator(s)
              These men are not the exception
              They are the rule
I first saw Nanette live
With a woman, soon to be my lover
Once, in bed together 
We lay close, no longer touching
A moment of discomfort during passion 
Stilled us
              I had disconnected
                                        And left her
I confessed
In my past, I left my body 
To let it be touched 
She looks at me like I am broken
I elaborate with stories
Where my body learned
                           What it is 
                                        To be female 
I felt my lover quiet
How to tell her
The power of this space
Teaching my skin
What touch should be
Bringing me back
                                                                To my body
                                       Where I am safe 
And exquisitely present 

A graduate of the National Art School, Ceinwen is a painter with a keen interest in feminism, queer theory, portraiture and the natural world. She works as an art therapist in regional Victoria where she advocates for social justice. A selection of her paintings can be viewed at: &

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