Posts Tagged 'feminism'

Woman with a wandering eye


There in the firelight sits a man, a dog, a chunk of meat and a knife. On the wall is a florid oil painting of a peacock walking across a garden, while a pale lady in a silk gown with a dangerously low bodice, wearing piles of yellow curls, sits on an ornate bench, holding her pekingese in her lap.

The man is drinking something: ale, if he’s been working with his men out on the moors; red wine, if he has guests of the more refined variety. But no, he’s got a chunk of meat and a knife. Let’s give him some crusted bread and devonshire cheese while we are at it. His complexion just got a bit higher, and one notices that the pale lady in the portrait appears to be looking at something over a low hedge: the gardener, is it? He’s a fine rustic lad, with a simple name, like Thomas or young Will. She’s looking at him over the hedge, while the pekingese is staring off the canvas at the meat lit up by the firelight.

The man and his ancestors have been in this home with its drafts, its wet stone walls, its brocades and warming pans, for over 400 years. This man, like others of his line, craved travel in his youth. He was the first of his people to travel across the ocean to the wild open west, the muddy roads, the rutted wagon trails. He was the first to break a palomino on the open range, the first to trade in furs and leathers and strange stories sent back across the wide seas. His letters to his father, who was staying in Constantinople with his second wife, were full of lies, and had more of truth hidden in them than he wanted his father to know. His mother, she of the pale hair and the lusting eye, was gone by then. She’d died of a fever one year when the garden was neglected, and the fruit trees had a late cold snap in May. The gardener was found leaning against a wall, dead of a bee sting, according to the parish doctor.

The man’s name is William, after all the Williams in their long line, and his eyes are not a pale hesitant blue like his mother, or a distracted grey, like his father. His eyes are green, the green of seas with warm currents, the green of coastal treasures, the green his descendants would see in the land beneath them 400 years later as they flew over New Zealand, or Brazil, or the western coast of Canada. Green turns to blue and then wanders out into the ocean, where sailors have travelled months at a time to reach the islands of tropical dreaming. The man’s name is William, he of a long line of Williams from chilly lands who have travelled the world in their younger days for hundreds of years. They have travelled to green islands and warm countries: palm trees, coconuts, lava flows, rice fields, machetes, oxen. All things foreign in a world spinning and gradually growing smaller, slower and coming to a resting place.

The pale woman’s descendants travel the world now on thin, light titanium bikes, wearing clothes that wick away moisture, and meals in tubes. They, too, love ale, all her green-eyed daughters, grand-daughters and great great grand-daughters, their friends and lovers. All of them love adventure, and slobbery dogs and frisbees, and all of them love the feeling of otherness that carries them in their strong female bodies through places where the fair-skinned woman with yellow curls and her pekingese were never able to go. And all of the woman’s sons and grand sons and great grand sons keep going back to their place by the fire, century after century, to their ancestral hall, and wait for the women to come home.

Ozzy Mandias

wanderer-above-the-mist-casper-david-friedrichThe pregnant feminist reminisced on the hegemony of gesture, rubbing her hand on her belly, big and round as a full moon. She rinsed her dry mouth with cool water and put her head under the faucet. My hair streams down my neck like snakes, like little rivers running as the snows melt in an early spring, she thinks and she pulls her head away from the sink and shakes it like a dog, water spraying around the kitchen. She thinks also I am not ready in spite of the evidence of her eyes, her belly and her ankles that she is beyond ready.

Truth be told, there are no accidental pregnancies among radical lesbian separatists, which is what Mardi Gras is, here with her big belly, pending baby and theories full and pressing against her, bladder and brain both distended past all previous reckoning. Mardi Gras is the child of sanctimony, matzo on one side, communion wafer on the other, and a little trickle of southern baptist that comes out once in awhile to sing big old hymns when noone is listening.

We here all know about the conversos of New Mexico, what, 16th 17th century Jews running to the new world from that old world wringing their hands in sacred mud for lost children, and then centuries later worshipping in that same wet Chimayo dirt with prayers and candles lit on a menorah but who knows quien sabe really, is what the grandmother said to the pregnant feminist.

The feminist and the rabbi walked into a bar – this is an actual joke that Mardi Gras heard from her own sister, who then inhaled a pretzel and asphyxiated like some nasty republican, like some old pop star, like some damn fool who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

Truthfully, when your ancestors came over from Spain and Morocco and Italy during the inquisition and they’ve all been steeped in the mythology of survival, then survive is what they do, what they do is survive past all expectation.

Mardi’s mother tells the story of the archbishop who played grabass with every choir boy in Española for twenty years and eventually got promoted up and out far enough where whispers could not touch, like dust in a sealed tomb, like the settling of old debts, and was silenced at last.

What worry could they have at the growing of Mardi’s belly, so intentional, so abolute in faith and love? All children should be wanted. All of Mardi’s are, starting with this one, the first. Ozzy Mandias, king of kings, son of women, singer of songs from every corner of this little earth.

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