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rose peoples

the politics of body heat


I am pegging out my washing
listening to a man’s white-hot rage,
I am reminded of the exclusive validity
of male screaming.
One peg, another peg
I did not really need to be reminded.
I only shout in the comfort of my own head.
One peg, another peg
The contrast, on the nose as it is,
is really too much to bear. One woman’s
cool surety, one man’s fuming.
One peg, another peg
I imagine I am not the first woman who,
basket emptied, squinted her eyes, tilted her head,
pretended that the towels, pegged taut, were defiant flags.

The dampness of the towels has made my fingers white –
white-cold and
rendered bloodless.


When cold, the hands ache,
the fingertips prick.
There is a name for this.
It is a Syndrome,
it is a female-dominated condition.
It can also be a response to fear.

Picture the heat running from your fingertips,
through your veins, coalescing at a spot
at the tip of your breastbone.

There is no cure.
Treatment remains avoiding the cold.


If You’re Freezing in Your Office Right Now, Cynthia Nixon Can Relate

Cynthia Nixon’s Request to Raise Debate Hall Temperature Highlights Gender Divide

Cynthia Nixon Combats ‘Sexist’ Room Temperature Ahead of Cuomo Debate

Cynthia Nixon Asked to Adjust the AC – It Isn’t Silly, It’s Symbolic

Cynthia Nixon is Bringing the Heat to Debate Andrew Cuomo

Cold Rooms ‘Notoriously Sexist’? Cynthia Nixon Seeks 76-Degree Setting for Cuomo Debate

Cynthia Nixon Campaign Deems 76 Degrees a Nice, Feminist Temperature


Looked at through heat sensor goggles
I am a head, a chest, a suggestion
of shoulders, the outline of hips.

It is easy to disappear in the cold.


I theorise a correlation
between body heat and adventurousness.
That is to say, I am not warm
and I am not adventurous.
My sister will plunge into
autumnal oceans, sleep under stars.
But I could grab her bare hand in the depths
of winter, and know it will be warm.
I, on the other hand, have learnt
that the sand holds the sun better than the sea,
and bury myself
up to the waist.


Before the end of the day,
bring in the washing. Opt for silence
this time. Be lulled by the gentle repetitions
of each unpegging. Basket slung on hip,
watch each breath fog and coil and fade.

Think –
Have they forgotten the fear
of a cold hand on the back of the neck?
The dread of an icy whisper?
Remember this –
It is easy to disappear in the cold.

Rose Peoples is a student a Victoria University. Her work has previously been published in Cordite and Mimicry.