Feminine Gospels


Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy is a collection of poems that range in tone about the female experience. Her poem “The Map Women” projects these ideas into the surreal, by telling the story of a women who has the map of her home all over her body.

This poem looks into place as well as feminine nature. Where ever the women goes and does this map remains on her body, as a constant reminder of her hometown. The women is only able to remove the map over her body, once she goes back to her hometown and then she realizes that she does not recognize anything anymore. Only then is she able to shed her skin, and have the map removed from her body. The last stanza states, “She woke and spread out the map on the floor./ What was she looking for?/ Her skin was her own small ghost,/ a shroud to be dead in, a newspaper for old news/ to be read in, gift wrapping, litter, a suicide letter./ she left it there, dressed, checked out got in the car./ As she drove, the town in the morning sun glittered/ behind her. She ate up the miles. Her skin itched,/ like a rash, like a slow burn, felt stretched, as though/ it belonged to someone else. Deep in the bone/ old streets tunneled and burrowed, hunting for home.” To me this is a poem that I can relate to. Even though I do not have a map of Brockport over my body, I do understand moving away only to come back and realize that many of the things that had been familiar to you when you lived there have changed. This process of returning to a place that had once been familiar that now seems foreign is extremely disorienting, and sometimes leave you feeling lost. The women in this poem returns to her hometown after being away, and leave feeling as though she still has to go searching for a home.

Now that I have been in London and have experienced the space some of the ideas of Carol Ann Duffy have become more prominent in my mind. I feel as though experiencing the outside world away from your home town makes considerable changes to a person. All the places that you experience are important to you, and make up who you are as a person. The next step after leaving your home town and then coming back would be to then see how your world view has been affected. According to the poem, sometimes it is better shed your skin and move on to hunt for a new place to call home. The experience of travel changes you and you cannot go back to your old way of thinking.



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