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the map woman
Transcript of the map woman
A woman's skin was a map of the town
where she'd grown from a child.
Over her breast was the heart of the town,
from the Market Square to the Picture House
by way of St Mary's Church, a triangle
of alleys and streets and walks, her veins
like shadows below the lines of the map, the river
an artery snaking north to her neck.
By Carol Ann Duffy
The Map Woman
All of the second stanza is now receding from the map, becoming symbols of decay and the passage of time. In contrast the third stanza also contains lively images of marriage, 'confetti skittering over the marble stones' and 'the big bell hammering hail from the sky'; the onomatopoeia, 'skittering', and alliteration create a vivid scene when juxtaposed with that of the graveyard. Similarly the listing of 'and wonder who you would marry and how and where and when' creates a fast pace which reflects the excitement of a child facing the unknowns of the future.
The Map Woman's body is the territory to be explored. The woman's body provides a map which is the guide to the woman's experiences, her past and her environment.
We gather the map is of her past life, her childhood. The general connotations of childhood memories and past experiences are mostly negative (embarrassing, painful,
foreshadowing her response to it in rest of the poem.
When she went out, she covered it up
with a dress, with a shawl, with a hat,
with mitts or a muff, with leggings, trousers
or jeans, with a an ankle-length cloak, hooded
Listing all the clothes she uses to cover up her marks, this indicates that she does not like her past and she wants to hide it or she wants to forget it.
But - birthmark, tattoo -
the A-Z street-map grew, a precise second skin,
broad if she binged, thin when she slimmed,
a précis of where to end or go back or begin.
This is similar language and ideas to link with the Diet such as binging and slimming, thin and broad. Also maybe the 'second skin' is similar to 'inside the fat woman now' as if the fat woman is the skin over the skinny woman, like a facade.
''The swan hotel''
''St. Mary's Church''
if you crossed the bridge at her nipple...''
this links to the line also
''...you would come to the graves,
the grey-haired teachers of English and History...''
the beloved mothers and wives, the nuns and priests,
their bodies fading into the earth like old print
on a page. You could sit on a wooden bench
as a wedding pair ran, ringed, from the church,
confetti skittering over the marble stones,
the big bell hammering hail from the sky, and wonder
who you would marry and how and where and when
you would die: or find yourself in the coffee house
nearby, waiting for time to start, your tiny face
trapped in the window's bottle-thick glass like a fly.
She knew you could scoot down Greengate Street,
huddling close to the High House, the sensible shops,
the Swan Hotel, till you came to the Picture House,
sat in the musty dark watching the Beatles
run for a train or Dustin Hoffman screaming
Elaine! Elaine! Elaine! or the spacemen in 2001
floating to Strauss.
And who might you see, short-cutting through
the Grove to the Square - that line there, the edge
of a fingernail pressed on her flesh - in the rain,
leaving your empty cup, to hurry on after
calling their name? When she showered, the map
gleamed on her skin, blue-black ink from a nib.
This stanza can link to the poem Sub with ideas to the Beatles and the 'spaceman'.
The reference to The Graduate:
Dustin Hoffman screaming
Elaine! Elaine! Elaine!
These are all things of the past helping keep that idea of history and things happening a long time ago. the scene portrays a woman leaving her new life to go back to her past lover 'ben', this could be representative of the map woman seeking out her past and It is also a wedding scene which links in with the third stanza.
She sponged, soaped, scrubbed; the prison and hospital stamped on her back, the park neat on her belly, her navel marking the spot where the empty bandstand stood, the river again, heading south, clear as an operation scar, the war memorial facing the railway station
where trains sighed on the platforms,
pining for Glasgow, London, Liverpool.
all these things made her life, made her future, helped her become who she is today
you could stand on the railway bridge, waving
goodbye to strangers who stared as you vanished
into the belching steam,
tasting future time
on the tip of your tongue.
She knew you could run
the back way home - there it was on her thigh -
taking the southern road then cutting off to the left,
the big houses anchored behind their calm green lawns,
the jewels of conkers falling down at your feet,
then duck and dive down Nelson and Churchill
and Kipling and Milton Way until you were home.
She didn't live there now.
She lived down south,
abroad, en route, up north, on a plane or train
or boat, on the road, in hotels, in the back of cabs,
on the phone;
ideas to The Diet again, 'squat on the tip of the tongue'
Links to Duffy's success and how it took her traveling and gave her new experiences as a writer
but the map was under her stockings,
under her gloves, under the soft silk scarf at her throat,
under her chiffon veil, a delicate braille. Her left knee
marked the grid of her own estate.
When she knelt
she felt her father's house pressing into the bone
heard in her head the looped soundtrack of then -
a tennis ball repeatedly thumping a wall,
an ice-cream van crying and hurrying on, a snarl
of children's shrieks from the overgrown land
where the houses ran out. The motorway groaned
just out of sight. She knew you could hitch
from Junction 13 and
knew of a girl who had not
been seen since she did; had heard of a kid who'd run
across all six lanes for a dare before he was tossed
by a lorry into the air like a doll. But the motorway
was flowing away, was a roaring river of metal
and light, cheerio, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, ciao
Quite vivid imagery of her kneeling, (ideas of Tall) and pressing into her fathers house as if it was a bad memory to be crushed
Quite aggressive and violent imagery here and almost a sarcastic ending to it, leaving the reader sour
She stared in the mirror
as she got dressed,
both arms raised over her head, the roads
for east and west running from shoulder
to wrist, the fuzz of woodland or countryside under
each arm. Only her face was clear, her fingers
smoothing in cream, her baby-blue eyes unsure
as they looked at themselves. But her body was certain,
an inch to the mile, knew every nook and cranny,
cul-de-sac, stile, back road, high road, low road,
one-way street of her past. There it all was, back
to front in the glass.
She piled on linen, satin, silk,
leather, wool, perfume and mousse and went out.
She got in a limousine.
The map perspired
under her clothes. She took a plane. The map seethed
on her flesh. She spoke in a foreign tongue.
The map translated everything back to herself.
She turned out the light and a lover's hands
caressed the map in the dark from north to south
lost tourists wandering here and there
, all fingers
and thumbs, as their map flapped in the breeze.
Quite frantic listing, intense imagery of the map just spreading all over her body and she is piling on these fabrics to hide it.
Mimicking how when woman look in the mirror they see themselves differently from how other see them, she sees all these metaphorical marks of her past
images of people invading her body and walking into her past wanting to know. This can also link back to the Woman Who Shopped.
So one day, wondering where to go next,
she went back, drove a car for a night and a day,
till the town appeared on her left, the stale cake
of the castle crumbled up on the hill; and she hired
a room with a view and soaked in the bath.
When it grew dark, she went out, thinking
she knew the place like the back of her hand,
but something was wrong. She got lost in arcades,
in streets with new names, in precincts
and walkways, and found that what was familiar
was only facade.
Carol Ann buff-y
Carol Ann fluffy
Carol Ann puffy
what a poser
This shows that when she went back to her home town to finally confront her past, it turns out she didn't know it at all. It has the message of how much she hated her past, her memories got twisted and she soon had created distorted memories that were there to replace trauma or bad experience.
Back in her hotel room, she stripped
and lay on the bed. As she slept,
her skin sloughed
like a snake's, the skin of her legs like stockings, silvery,
sheer, like the long gloves of the skin of her arms,
the papery camisole from her chest a perfect match
for the tissuey socks of the skin of her feet. Her sleep
, lifted a honeymoon thong from her groin,
a delicate bra of skin from her breasts,
and all of it
patterned A to Z; a small cross where her parents' skulls
grinned at the dark. Her new skin showed barely a mark.
saucy naked tiger
Now that she has confronted the past, it can finally be put to rest. All her marks and childhood that had been creeping up on her, covering her body, invading her skin, has now shed.
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
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 somebody else. Deep in the bone
old streets tunneled and burrowed, hunting for home.
her past haunts her
The ending is almost quite ambiguous. Is a new map forming? Is it impossible to get rid of her past?
In conclusion, the 'map woman' although was able to hide her past and have a positive start on life again, i think it where shes from, her past ad experiences will always be there, under her skin, deep in her bone because no one can ever really escape their past.
CAROL SWAG DUFFY
THANKYOUUUUU FOR LISTENING