Monday, June 30, 2008


Here's another short-short story from my early days as a writer. This was published in Sinister Wisdom #11, Fall 1979. I wrote it while I lived in the lesbian land collective in Durango, Colorado.

Just like the sweet apple reddens on the tip of the branch,
upon the top of the highest, [which] the apple-pickers forgot.
Yet they didn't really forget; but they could not reach it.
-- Sappho


"Of course, many of my acquaintances from the outside are struck by the oddity of this womon who lives with me. They have said she seems to be, at times, removed from reality, or a visionary. I think I will have to agree with them on the word visionary. She is a visionary, she has been called such for several centuries, though they do not know it.

"As for the womon, she is very happy here, incredibly happy. If she were not, I would return her, or find another place for her. But she wishes to stay by me, in my bed, in my world; and upon her real death, what she has written will fill several more volumes. The dry period of her last decade before I came has vanished.

"I think she is most pleased when I show her the books we were taught from in school, for in them she is held up as the example, the Writer, that she feared she never was. It must be a stretch of the self-concept to know that children are reading words she wrote five hundred years ago, reading and understanding and being swept with an emotion half a millenium old. No, wait -- her greatest pleasure came the time I took her to a play based on her life. She laughed long afterward, and when she could finally speak, she said 'They were so close, and yet so far from knowing.'

"Here in the collective, of course, she can be herself, and that is who we know and love. Age has lessened the 'boldness like a wren' of her, nor the chestnut in her hair. And she still wears white, but her hair falls free over her shoulders, and the Amazon just arrived next door is teaching her to ride a horse.

"And when we love, she is a girl again, a wild-hearted girl who loved too greatly for her time but not for mine. I am trying, very hard, to make up for the decades she lived with a broken heart. I think I can do this because I loved her for decades, reading the lines both written and silent that told how like me she was.

"And her oddity to those not part of the collective, part of the secret, is no real threat. We are all considered to be odd, we here on the sprawl of land and mountain we have claimed as ours for a livelihood and a home. And if our numbers grow suddenly, it is explained by the appeal of our freedom, the lure that calls in wimmin needing a sanctuary.

"And this is no lie. From the very moment I made my discovery (or was given the secret by the Mother, as Beata insists), I knew how I would use it. I had waited too long for the womon separated from me by my birthtime to consider anything else. The rest of it came when I realized that my dream was not alone, that others of us here had room and need for their own heroines. And so now we are great gathering of lovers, poets old and new, who listen to one another with an intensity that can only grow from having been torn apart.

"Next to the first journey, where I gained my love, the best was whisking the French maid from the flames. She wears trousers and shot hair with no fear now, and hears the voices of angels each time she speaks with us. Her eyes are so very brown, and the pain is faded altogether.

"Last week I returned with the Amazon, from the Steppes, who could see the erosion of her nation-tribe coming soon. I am going back often to that place -- there are many who wished to come. What? Yes, of course the lied, all the accounts of what happened to our eldermothers were lies; they couldn't very well say that a witch appeared as they neared death and they both chuckled merrily as they vanished, now could they?

"I tell you all this, my friend, because you have joined our clan and you can be trusted with the secret. Also, I sense that you may have your own request to make of me, a need to save someone from the womon-hatred of her own time. Aha! I thought so; well, it won't be so difficult. Can you get me her last known coordinates and the date of her disappearance? Good. What did friends call her? Melly? Alright, then, I shall bring Melly to you tomorrow. Only you must promise to give her all the room the needs to adjust -- and you must let her return cheerfully if she prefers that to being part of now.

"Yes, I would have returned my scribbler if she had asked it. But I think I would have gone with her, to ease the loneliness of the huge old house and that cold world. You see, I have always loved her. And I wanted to show my love from the first time I read the plea in 'My life closed twice before its close --'

"Hush, now, here comes the mother of us all. Yes, she is quite short, and dark, but the Greeks were in those days. Wait till you hear the verse she composed yesterday…"

© Maggie Jochild.

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