Definition: Woman – by Maggie Mackay


1. Amazon

Zoe/Helena/Atalanta is a member of a forceful race of warriors. She wears a tattooed skin of painted whirls and lines. She’s quite a sight. Inside her heart, a trumpet blast of generations gone before her. Independently minded, like a goshawk as it hovers on the thermals over summer fields. Kill. Wing it back to the eyrie. Tear the flesh, spit the bones.

2 . Jezebel

Scarlett/Tallulah/Zelda flouts where the average woman conforms. Once a pure being, gossip has it that she is a fallen woman, swears, takes the walk of shame at dawn, broken heels wobble in the gutter, cleavage exposed.
A poor version of Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she inhabits a street of loneliness. window browsing. Litter drifts by.

3 . Lass

Bess/Tess/Peggy is a farmer’s daughter. Married young to a neighbour’s son she met at a Saturday dance. Her skin glows rose-blush through every season, even after giving birth six times. She rises with the sun, bakes scones without burning them. No one expects her to change. Her soul harbours thunder.

4 . Cougar

Eve/Nicole/Goldie is a forty-year-old city wildcat. Sharp talons worked on stone. She hunts toy boys without mercy. Writes the rules. Three essential attributes – to be active, fit, ambitious. One Achilles heel, neediness. It trips her up a month and a day into a relationship. The man runs.

5. Diva

Shirley/Mariah/Barbra bursts into a power ballad, avoids eye contact, demands, demands more. Her pet pug, Basil, goes where she goes and in a willow basket lined with faux fur. She is never on time for other people but expects to start on time. The divine right belongs to her. Every diva is world class in her field.

6 . Hen

Isa/Netta/Betty is a west coast of Scotland bird. She is loved in Springburn/Govan/Bellshill and by every bus driver when she pays her fare.
Messages bought, she’s heading home at winter teatime or off to work on a predawn morning. He cheers her with a casual smile, hen or Glasgow banter. The change tinkles as her heels clip down the aisle.





Maggie Mackay, a Scot and recent Manchester Metropolitan University MA Poetry graduate, has work in a range of print and online publications such as Ink, Sweat & Tears, Prole ,Three Drops Press and Atrium. The editor of Amaryllis nominated her poem ‘How to Distil a Guid Scotch Malt’ for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem, 2017.


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