A Witch Whispers to a Young Handmaid with a Tale


Dear Not-So-Little-Red, whose dreams are not quite dead (I know because you had enough curiosity to peek at a hawk-sent missive),

I went to bed to dream of better days than my own. I saw you instead, with my crone’s foresight, saw almost won battles still being fought, saw the men who felt entitled to squeeze hearts hard until they pumped in discordant measures, saw it all being done with the excuses that seem ancient even to my aged ears. “This is done in the name of goodness,” they shouted over the whimpers of the impious.

Dear Not-So-Little-Red, for a moment I despaired too. All my proud insurrections, what good were they? I freed my little Lucky from a father who was willing to sacrifice flesh on the altar of respectability. I kept a dozen others from a similar fate, grew them to be true and honor their strength. I knew I might not live to see an era where covetous old men no longer cowed the stupid to keep their power or collected on fear of words they used to condemn those who, like me, dare deviate from their rules. But I had hoped for better for my children.

Dear Not-So-Little-Red (I refuse to call you by a name impaled upon your orifices. I could search for your true name every month to infinity, but you must name yourself in the end. All I can do is remind you that you are more than an appetizer for wolves). I saw you freeze like a hare, when hailstorms of indignities pelted you. They claimed your birth as a less-favored gender was reason for you to bear anything they demanded.

Dear Not-So-Little-Red, believe this old woman, whose womb did not prevent her from becoming the mother she wanted to be—you have a weapon you can use. No, it will not be like what I would choose. We all must fight according to our nature, and you Dear Not-So-Little-Red have a far more tender heart than mine. The path of nightshade and toadstool is not for you.

But you do have the power to birth children that will thwart their plans. It’s in your voice, which you can choose to raise as you’d like. I’ll promise you what I promised the farmer. Your progeny, the tales you can tell, will grow hearty with your pain and anger, get stronger with each telling, until they can raze every building filled with presumptuous old men.

You are free now, Not-So-Little-Red. Do what you’d like. You can pretend you are as powerless as an ant. You can walk away. Or you can sow your words in all the fertile soil that will bear fruit past even the time I can dream of. Set them down so others will know. And even in that time, so far past yours and my own, even if they don’t remember you, they will have the luxury of debate in a world that has no conditions on what it means to be human.

The choice is yours.

All my love,
Rowena


*sigh* What she said.

Song Choice: Quiet by MILCK

Liner Notes for This Groove: I hadn’t planned on doing a post on Thursday, but Sherry’s prompt for the Toads, Being A Woman in Times Like These, proved too irresistible for words, especially when I stopped to consider how a character in my book, TheTrouble with Wanting and Other Not-Quite Faerie Tales (Rowena from What’s a Little Blood to a Mother’s Heart), might respond to the events in A Handmaid’s Tale. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t have definite opinions about that or the on-going battle to simply declare women as equal to men (yeah Rowena, I’m not thrilled that the ERA hasn’t passed yet either). I imagined this letter as something Rowena might send by magic via her favorite hawk to Offred during the interlude where Offred was freed by the Mayday resistance and before she recorded the tapes.

I have also linked this piece to Poets United's Poetry Pantry 483

36 comments:

  1. This is incredibly raw and pierces straight through my heart, Rommy!💞 For centuries women have been ruled and oppressed by tyrants as they claimed their birth "as a less-favored gender," and have used it as an excuse .. no rather as a right to belittle them, to impose themselves upon their lives and murder their dignity, their dreams and their very being. It makes me furious that times (if not better) haven't changed. There is a dire need for improvememt in the inner-workings of the world.💞

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    1. I feel a little hope about things getting better when I see how younger people are really engaging with the idea of gender inequality and coming to some thoughtful realizations. But like Rowena, I think this is a fight that will likely outlive me.

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  2. Applause! O.M.G.! Yes! I feel like the woman in the photo holding the sign, having to live through this shit again. Sigh. At this point i'll take the mushroom and the night shade, lol. I loved this piece so much! Love the hope at the end that words can help us dream, and inspire others. Awesome, Rommy!

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    1. As a writer and a poet, I do believe in the power of words to make a difference. Maybe it's just the way my mind works, but I'd like to believe that Offred knew what she was doing when she decided to record those words. It wasn't just for some detached historians to discuss. There were people who listened to those words, maybe passed around tapes just like that the way thumb drives containing bootleg videos are passed around North Korea. And those tapes may have been the kindling needed to make real change.

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  3. I want to pick up my own sign and start screaming Rowena's words. It's incredible that after all this time, we are still drowning in the same crap. We are the only ones who can say "No more!" and get it to be so. So... we must.

    I love reading your Rowena's voice as she reaches out to another character who fights the status quo in difficult times. To be honest, after reading this... I'm not sure if I will be able to keep myself from inking a word (or 13) to echo this truth.

    P.S. You must read this aloud to us!

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    1. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas! I'm sorry you're not feeling 100% well, but glad if my ramblings coaxed new Magaly-ness to come into the world. *grins* Yeah, maybe I will record this!

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  4. Rommy, your words remind us that even though we are beyond tired, beyond frustrated, we must still fight. We may not be able to resist and push forward the way we did in the past, we must do something. We can stand for, with, and behind our new champions!

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    1. We can all work together, young and old, and resist in the ways best suited to who we are. That's one of the saving graces of this modern age--there are lots of ways to resist.

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  5. I love "You must name yourself in the end" that to me speaks of power. To be exactly who you want to be.

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  6. " It’s in your voice, which you can choose to raise as you’d like. " That is the key!

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    1. Our voices can be powerful things indeed

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  7. THIS.IS.VISCERAL! What’s a Little Blood to a Mother’s Heart happens to be one of my favourites. And this powerful letter by Rowena, seals the deal. I really, really love your prose poem, in fact "I wish I'd written this".

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  8. ~ you can walk away or you can sow your words in all the fertile soil that will bear fruit ~ I regret the years I stuffed emotions/words ~ thankful I found my voice while there was still time to make a difference, an impact.

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    1. But you did get free in the end. That's the important thing.

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  9. Oh... and here I come... the only man who has to bear the burden of those men that came before me (and actually quite a few who has not understood how much better it is to share and cooperate)... in the end she has has the power in her hands.

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    1. Nah, I make it a point to try not to crap on an ally. There are plenty of better people to pin my angst on, many of them sitting in Congress.

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  10. Elsewhere iI have been commenting how lucky I was to experience the empowerment of women from WW2 on in Britain and afterwards in Australia. Of course there are still misogynists screaming out their rubbish but hopefully it is the death throws of bigoted people who are deep down frightened even of equality. If they are not careful they may not even get that!

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    1. Thanks Robin! I appreciate your support! <3

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  11. Yes, we all must name ourselves in the end. And we all have choices to make in how we live our lives. We must continue to empower ourselves!

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  12. Yes indeed Rommy - and as your piece reveals, it is writer and especially poets calling to help illuminate that choice.

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    1. We know how powerful the right word at the right time can be.

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  13. This was a piece I needed. So much frustration as one stares at images of people whose only cover is the lies they claim toward righteousness...this was a solid hope that speaking is the equivalent to pulling that cover off.

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    1. This was a piece I needed to read as well as write. :)

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  14. 'What she said' indeed. I'm her, the woman in the picture! Or one just like her.

    Love your poetic prose and its passion; also the refusal to give up, ever.

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  15. Impactful and important. You work is always gratifying to read, Rommy. Once again, I commend you on your ability to bring so much creativity into a piece of writing and yet remain, clear, wonderfully organized, and on message. The devil, I'm told, is in the details … and details win battles. Awesome writing!

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  16. That was passionate, timely and wonderfully written. It's so interesting to see how the battles are unfolding in different parts of the world.

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    1. Goodness yes. I know we Americans can often be rather us focused (pardon the pun), but I have been reading about events in other places too.

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