Sunday, 15 April 2007
I love Jeanette Winterson's writing and I elevate her to the status of 'National Treasure'. I like 'Oranges' very much, but I think that the later work is so much better. I try and read 'Art and lies' every year. I admire the way that she attempts the impossible and usually succeeds in making it look effortless.
The following is a homage to Jeanette.
"I was standing in a meadow of flowers and my feet were wet. I was picking armfuls of fresh young herbs: queen anne's lace, biting persicaria and neem. Every so often I would stop and eat them. My dress was clammy with dew, but I did not seem to mind. I skipped around the field, seeking the freshest shoots to eat.
My breasts grew firm and shapely; my nipples pressed through the moistness of my dress, but I did not feel cold, only ready.
I was not alone. My companions were hand maidens, who seemed to enjoy splashing in the water; the skin between their fingers and toes was webbed and they swam in the stream as easily as they walked through the herb field.
"We are here to ripen your desires." They sang as they collected wax myrtle, southernwood and mugwort. "Eat and dream, for you are telling the story."
So I ate until my belly was full of desire, and I stood up strong, firm and moist, ready for one of my choosing. I was empowered and fully in control of my youthful body.
I looked down and my private parts had grown into an orchid flower. I felt down with my fingers into the softest of petals. My pubic hair had always been a protective calyx of green sepals that had now folded back to reveal their white secrets within. My large labia were now a ring of five open petals, pure white dusted with yellow sparkles. My pussy lips formed an inner curve of white petals bespeckled with crimson patterns to be an open cup, a welcoming chalice, drawing all things inwards to the dark spaces within. From the secret depths grew a white stigma just visible in the narrow opening between the petals. My tiny bean, always so well hidden in its monk's cowl of flesh had transformed into a large brown anther, split longways to spill the brightest golden pollen. What was my private secret was now revealed for the world to see and visit.
As if drawn by irresistable and unopposable forces, bees started to fly to me magnetised by my secret places, mesmerised by my pollen.
"Kore is ready. There is none as beautiful as she."
"Your maidenhood is yours to give as you choose. If you choose to give it to one man, then you will be respected." said the chief companion.
I replied, "Then I will become one man's possession."
"If your maidenhood is stolen from you, then you will be pitied and feared amongst women and ignored by men."
"Then I will become dispossessed."
"If you share your maidenhead with many, then you will be all men's property."
"Then I will earn the right to my shame."
I turned flushed with anger. "Why can I not give my body when I choose and to whom I choose?"
"Kore, that is the choice we all wanted, but few of us achieved." said the chief companion, whom we must call Circe.
"Like us, you will gamble with the cards the dealer gives you."
"Who is the dealer?" "There is no dealer. Just a necessary conjunction of objects."
The bee had flown a mile with single-minded determination. It arrived and pushed itself into my tissues with experienced accuracy. It took no time. No time for preliminaries: conversation, acquaintance. It did not even wipe its feet, bringing any pollen from its conquests on the rougher edge of the meadow. Small lice crawled from the hair on its belly into my personal darkness. I felt it rub itself over my stigma, and I shuddered with a coldness of betrayal. Seeds.
My stigma was bruised by the encounter, whilst the bee moved upwards to my anther. Licking, inserting its thin tongue into the split, widening it so that the pollen spilled out all over its length. Licking, the taste stimulates a frenzy of sucking, biting and chewing.
"Stop." I said. "Those grains are for all of the people I choose to love."
"No", he commanded, his mouth glowing with bright stolen gold.
"No, only me. It is all for me, and will always be."
At this he grew tall, and tore his bee skeleton open to reveal the sagging flesh of the King of the Dead. His acne-lined face, broken teeth, sagging eye-lids, and thick blue lips had deceived me. His breath had travelled from the rotting pits of the charnel house.
Fertilisation. A double fertilisation is needed to make a seed. He only provides pollen and is free to fly away. I make a commitment with the food of my flesh.
I looked my body. My beautiful flower was hidden by course black hair that spread across and up and down. A thin line was marching upwards to surround and conqueror my navel. My tight smooth skin was road-mapped with pale streaky lines. The flesh around my thighs dimpled to hide the blue-veins of well-travelled motorways.
Thin dark hairs demarked the edge of the areolae of my nipples. The shape of my breasts fell as they turned into milk bottles. The smooth roundness of my belly became thin and stretched as the seeds grew inside my fruit. Shadows of hair on my top lip, grey hairs at my temple.
All of these things he had caused to happen.
"Come." he said. "It is time to go. You will live with me in the houses of the dead. Welcome to my hell."
He laughed and raised his right hand as if to strike me. The earth opened and swallowed me into the crack in the fabric of doom."