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Showcase: You Are A Special Lady + Alice Ayres + Baby + A Place Between + Who Knows

Edited by Jilly Henderson-Long

It’s interesting that March hails both International Women’s Day on the eighth and Mother’s Day on tenth of the month. And this, my first Showcase, is just a few days before each. Being a 21st century woman is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s a certain fiendish satisfaction in being a woman every time we achieve something that even we – of all people – did not imagine we would, or even could, achieve. It’s so good to see more women in sport and getting recognised for it, for example. As a young tomboy, all I wanted as a kid was to play football with the boys, or climb trees, or get muddy, but even back in those days (early 60s/70s), such behaviour in little girls was frowned upon.

I remember being invited along to a local youth club once. The boys were in the main hall playing football and pool and the girls were in a side room being shown how to embroider! Needless to say, I never went back. When I was older and working in a day nursery, there was once an uproar because a young man was employed as a nursery assistant. He was just as trained as his female counterparts, but he was male, and some parents weren’t comfortable with that. I say it’s high time men and women were both recognised in whatever they do. It’s true to say that Equal Rights have come a long way, but there’s still some way to go before they’re achieved completely. So here’s a selection of pieces highlighting women in all walks of life, as well as looking at how things begin and can sometimes end.


The first selection today is by Dr Afsana Elanko, who has written a poem for this coming Friday  (International Women’s Day, 8 March), celebrating all the special ladies out there.

You Are A Special Lady

In the beginning you carried me for nine months,
Never tired of caring for me,
Tall you stood when describing me,
Engaged me with your beautiful stories,
Right from wrong you taught me,
Never tiring, resilience is in your nature,
Altogether you are amazing,
Totally professional when you work,
Intelligence comes naturally to you,
Openhearted kind spirit,
Never tiring in your generosity,
At the end I want to be with you,
Lovely likable lady always.

When you walk into the room your presence is felt,
Oblivious to your talents you are humble,
Mother nature lives in you,
Eternal love is what you know,
Nice courteous creature,
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is what you are.

Days like today we honour you,
A moment today we take to appreciate you,
Yes, today we celebrate you in entirety, just the way you are.

© Dr Afsana Elanko, 2024


My second piece comes from Greg Pidgeon. I love his moving poem about courage, something we’ve all had to demonstrate at some point in our lives. Historical figure Alice Ayres (1859 –1885) was an English nursemaid. She was honoured for her bravery in rescuing the children in her care from a house fire.

Alice Ayres

I take my charges, ascending up
Three little souls, tucked in safe,
Prayers spoken, futures ahead.
I watch them drift into dreams.

I too slip into my envelope
Soothing smell of snuffed candle
Crisp cotton I wrap around me
I float into my thoughts.

Troublesome smells enter my dreams.
Cautious crackles knocking on my door
Slowly my senses prod my slumber
I turn warm and blurred.

Noise hits, jolting upright
I awake like in a bitter shower
Raven black smoke under doorway
Its inky death creeping menacingly.

My lungs fill with its vapour
Panic dominant, I scream, I cry, Lord
Fear punches my breath, I jerk up
Young, still and exposed.

Casement turned, breath of life for flame
I gulp the sweet clean air
Spectators gathering, entertained
I turn to the aghast awoken.

Sash gaping ready to deliver
My charges first must be reborn
I give flight a mattress
Readying for delivery.

Edith first, gripping my skin
Calls of reassurance cry
Trusting, wide-eyed, trembling
She flies and lands into care.

Hysterics gripping the two
Back into the vapour, grasping Ellen
Our lungs filling, eyes weeping
She too takes wing into the cushion.

Elizabeth limp, listless and fading
Flames licking, kissing us both
Limp under my arms I falter
I send her out to the angels.

In recognition of the pain
Strength fading I miss my jump
Descending striking building
I land into reprieving unconscious.

I wake again in a fresh starched envelope
Fear lost, peace found
Reassuring sitter holds my hand.
I fly again.

“I tried my best and could do no more.” Alice Ayres’ last words.

© Greg Pidgeon, 2024

Connect with Greg on Instagram: @pidgeongreg


My next piece is by Tavinder New and illustrates how certain things are expected of women and the stigma we have to bear if, sometimes, through no fault of our own, we are unable – or unwilling – to meet those expectations.


“Everyone should have at least one baby,” she remarked. But it wasn’t possible and impossible for me to do so. Where was I meant to get this child from? My womb is a place of hostility and lacking any fertility, not a place to grow anything. Time for it to go, time for it to be taken away.

Childless not by choice, childless by circumstance, childless none the same, outed by society.

“Everyone knows about labour, the difficulties of having a child,” she laughed. But it wasn’t possible and impossible for me to do so. I wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t part of them.

I’m seen as carefree. Life is simple for me but not for me.

I had wanted a baby; I had wanted to be a mother, not have an unfriendly environment inside me.

Childless not by choice, childless by circumstance, childless none the same outed by society.

My womb is no longer a transformation of identity of my purpose by society to have a child, therefore classification unknown.

So I am lost in translation with this baby who didn’t get me to be. I also lost a part of me they don’t see.

© Tavinder New, 2024

Connect with Tavinder on X: @NewTavinder


Our next piece is by Mary L Walsh and perfectly illustrates how all our lives are affected by beginnings and endings.

A Place Between

Caught in the luminescent memory
A place of radiant beauty
Between then and now
The aroma of home cooking
The call of the muezzin
The cries of the fishermen
The brindled blue of sky and sea
The vivid hues
Imagined as a perfect world
Now reality crashes into that place between

© Mary L Walsh, 2024

Connect with Mary on Instagram: @marelwa60


I’m going to be cheeky and sneak in one of my own poems here. I go through phases where I write fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The poetry phase can last up to a year. This is one of my most recent.

Who Knows?

At the beginning, I died.
I slipped from hero to zero.
I could still hear their cries.
Was that terror? Anger?
I don’t actually know.

Voices echoing in a
timeless place.
Did they call my name?
Or was it just the Monica
of some other forgotten hero?
I don’t remember.

Drifting through the ages,
here, there and nowhere.
Yes I was afraid.
I was lost.
I didn’t know where I was going to.

And yet … and yet…
I knew something was coming,
something all engulfing,
all encompassing. And then
at the ending, I was born.
New beginnings. Old worlds.

© Jilly Henderson-Long, 2024

Connect with me on X: @Jilly52144833

I hope you find a way to celebrate both these important days in the next week. In the meantime, don’t forget its Women’s History Month as well, so there will be lots more great writing to share.


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

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