Great tits make sure no one pays much attention to you
When you realize that, it all works in your favour
What can I tell you? The hutch was claustrophobic,
I was only sixteen, barely older than a chick
he was so much older, so much more sophisticated.
It was a rush wedding, my rooster and hen wouldn’t
attend; I should have known better, I should have
paid attention to their constant clucking, but I was young
I had such dreams; they didn’t last. He treated me
like a barnyard animal. He paraded me before his friends
told me what to wear; raped me on our wedding night.
I had to get away from him and the country of my birth
it all weighed on me like an evil dream of a stoat. I felt it.
The turn of all that was good into bad. The parades,
the bonfires, demonization of good people. I had to get out.
I asked him to take me to the opera, to show me off, cover
me in the jewels he bought me, how good I would look,
how they showed how much he loved me, all that glitter
piled onto this skinny little thing with the big tits.
I hung on his arm, made sure he drank — a lot.
When it was late, I said I had to use the ladies room.
I fled to the street, to a hansom I had arranged
made my way to the train station, I won’t even
mention the embarrassment, the shame I endured
as every man leered at me adorned in jewels
and little else; I ignored them all, I was travelling
to the New World wearing a fortune. I determined
to re-invent myself. I loved to sing, I knew the classics.
Engagements followed. Audiences adored me, reviews
were favourable, but I was afraid to be the great singer
I was meant to be. I never stayed in one place too long;
I knew how far my ex-husband’s power could reach.
I made my way out West. A call sheet required an opera
singer — it occurred to me, what better way to hide
than out in the open? Who could touch me once I became
a movie star? The fun was just a bonus.
I’ve never told anyone all of this before.
Yes, my work did help in the war.

(Clara first appeared in 1934 in Orphans benefit. Others may not see it, but to me she will always be an independent woman who took on the world on her terms. GG