[there are always two sides]

[p r e t e x t]

Power has a strange sort of duality to it. Initially, it comes across as quite strong. Noble; ringing us back to times of power which came with red velvet thrones, heavy gemstones and gold. The treasures of Kings and Queens who have come before us. It brings with it connotations of victory, domination and pride. All normatively masculine traits. However, this brazen initial impression of power makes it easy to manipulate. In the wrong hands, it can become insidious and fester. It can become tainted with evil as those who wield it do so without respect for its strength and without the necessary humility to exercise it responsibly. Many have been seduced by these masculine features of power. An interesting concept, as it is the female who is usually thought of as the seductress.

The duality of power comes when one considers the power that comes through openness, vulnerability or transparency. These qualities have a gentle, feminine strength within them. They are what make us wahine strong. We realise the strength that comes with brute force, yet we also understand the strength in what is seen as soft. Openness, vulnerability and transparency are the yin to the yang. They teach the more brash aspects of power modesty. While the power of strength and domination wither with age, the power of vulnerability, openness and transparency are eternal. They are less likely to tarnish. They are undercurrents which, like a current, intensify over time. Writing is one way such power may be gained. It is in part why people journal; write songs, poems, letters they do not send… to reflect, and become aware of what may only flow out through the tip of a pen. With awareness comes knowledge, comes honesty and truth, comes power, which in turn can be distilled back through to truth and honesty, back to knowledge, back to simple awareness.

Some may view this knowledge in its written or oral form as a weakness which can be turned against the individual. Yet the individual is already aware of this, of what they have manifested in the world. They are no stranger to what may be unearthed or used against them. The mere existence of the words in tangible form gives the writer power over whoever may seek to use them against him or her. For there is power in vulnerability and transparency, more so than there will ever be in strength and domination. Strength and domination are fallible: There will always be an element of human error that can bring about surprise. But in pure truth, there is no error. There are no surprises. There is nothing to hide thereafter, but one hundred percent responsibility.

It is with this in mind that I present the following. It is not quite a poem, not quite an essay. It explores the depth of this vulnerability; openness; transparency through the power of writing and through the power of love. Same-same, but different. If read using the little voice in one’s head, you may find the piece develops a type of cadenced momentum, a sort of swing-in-rhythm, or swingin’-rhythm (whichever you may choose). A lilt, a stepped pedal that you can use to gain pace and navigate within the words, around the punctuation, and in the space between all of that.



[r h y t h m i c ~ e s s a y]

leave it all out on the page,
leave it out for everyone to see —
that’s what this does to me.

it makes me transparent, an open book:
you know me, but i don’t know you.
you read my words i so carefully craft,

you caress the contours of my syntax, my sentences, my punctuation, my grammatical nuances that i weave from silken strands of thought that come out of my head.

it makes you vulnerable, this does.
and i swore,
that i would never be vulnerable again, not after that first love.
it makes you weak, love does. it exposes you — your underbelly, your achilles heel, and makes you soft
pliable, malleable,

but as it seems, and alas, it does seem
that i have found another vulnerability;
another outpouring for my emotions
through words.
black letter/ white page;
ink to paper.
perhaps now i am more vulnerable than i ever was before
because, now,
privy to my thoughts, something far, far more intimate and inside of me than anyone could ever physically be. for when you read these words, you are me. you know me. you put my coat on. you see the world through my eyes. these brown-ringed orange hazel big wide eyes.

do we all need these outlets /
is it so essential /
to human life that we have these places, safe spaces, where we can put our emotions?

some of us are blessed with putting them into human shaped vessels.
and some of us make do with pen-paper, sending our thoughts into oblivion, getting them out there, somewhere, to no-one-in-particular.

but all the same
it makes us vulnerable.


About the author
Rachael Monkhouse is a law and psychology student at the University of Otago. In her spare time she enjoys writing for her blog, yoga, meditating and running. She is ¾ Chinese and attributes much of her hyper awareness of the society around her to this. It is hard to accept things as they are if you yourself are always different and feel out of place. She hopes that one day the world will change so people live with less expectation and judgement, and with more acceptance and compassion.