• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 04
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I count the wood knots in the walls as they commodify my womanhood.

Father baits the line with posture and daughterly compliance and loads the hook with masculine hands and a strong ancestral spine. The suitor commends my inconspicuous bearing and cracks his passionless countenance to lecture on the righteous utility of spades.

My inherited vertebrae swing the balance. An amendment is drafted with five additional Spring-green squares of good grazing. I learn of my betrothal beating bedsheets in a summer shower. Such is my journey to love.

I am exchanged for the immutable squares and articulate my pledge to honour and obey with a dutiful joylessness. Father leaves before the vows to resettle his hungry herds. My blessing is a sanguine sermon on the fates of wilful women.

I blossom bodily in a province of unremitting piety. My husband is beguiled by an altogether different budding. We scourge the flesh of the land with imbalanced utilitarian zeal. My ungentle fingers fatten and scar.

We suppress the passions of our bodies through the exhausting labours of the day. I am commended for the consistency and vigour of my hours and discouraged from inferring opinion in company.



Ignorant of the means, I intimate an instinct of motherhood. My husband is ill-disposed to the diversion of his labours. I advance increase as a duty common to all things in nature. He asserts the pleasure of God in observing how resolute we remain against the distraction of issue.

I am far less resolute than He determines, but I am nothing if not fair-minded. Three times I plead the relief of my maidenhood. Three times the Almighty's postponing pleasure prevails. I pass a sixth winter unfulfilled.

I pleasure my husband with devotion to Beta vulgaris and the neighbourly siting of Brassica. I spice his slumbers with dreams of fulsome Lactuca and lace my own transported thoughts with the dire strains of dainty stems.

I read and I read and I read. A secret but learned soil-and-root apothecary am I.

And I will stop the seventh winter at the first bough twitch of Autumn.

I will choose a clear night after supper to take up my shawl and count stars for a candle length. I will return to the silent triumph of arcane compounds and await the first bloom of lividity. I will defer to the clock a last courteous revolution, wipe clean the soiled collar and give thanks for the righteous utility of spades.