Salome got a bum rap. I blame Oscar. Like too many gay men, he had a poor opinion of women in general, but we forgive him because he was extraordinarily witty and entertaining.
Most of what we know about women that we have not acquired from direct experience has been mediated through the minds of men. Men who, by and large, understand what is hidden only in the light of what is revealed and in the light of their own bruised egos, ergo, who understand nothing. Even the stuff that women write about other women is too often informed by cultural misogyny.
I'd done it before
(and doubtless I'll do it again,
sooner or later)
woke up with a head on the pillow beside me -whose? -
what did it matter?
Good- looking, of course, dark hair, rather matted;
the reddish beard several shades lighter;
with very deep lines around the eyes,
from pain, I'd guess, maybe laughter;
and a beautiful crimson mouth that obviously knew
how to flatter...
which I kissed...
Colder than pewter.
Strange. What was his name? Peter?
Simon? Andrew? John? I knew I'd feel better
for tea, dry toast, no butter,
so rang for the maid.
And, indeed, her innocent clatter
of cups and plates,
her clearing of clutter,
her regional patter,
were just what I needed -
hungover and wrecked as I was from a night on the batter.
I needed to clean up my act,
cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.
Yes. And as for the latter,
it was time to turf out the blighter,
the beater or biter,
who'd come like a lamb to the slaughter
to Salome's bed.
In tile mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.
I flung back the sticky red sheets,
and there, like I said -and ain't life a bitch -
was his head on a platter.
~Carol Ann Duffy