Woven of Silence and Thistles
(or, the girlfriend's story over martinis)
by Jeana Jorgensen
It was like one of those stories
where the girl can't talk for seven years
or like the one where the Virgin Mary
sews her mouth shut. You know. Bad shit like that.
Right, so, in the story she has to keep quiet
because of a spell on her brothers who are swans
but for me the birds were all women, beautiful women,
the other women in his life. Alien avian women.
I accepted the curse. I knew I couldn't say anything bad
about them, since I knew about the whole thing,
we had the relationship talk and it was open
and it was cool since I'm really busy anyway, you know?
Things changed. Circles under his eyes and silence
between us, space between us in bed, all my words
pouring out to stone ears and I was ignored and nothing
I said mattered and I was silenced, silent, desperate.
The story's about suffering in isolation, right?
This girl weaving shirts out of nettles or thistles or
something unpleasant: well, there was burning all right.
A trip to the clinic. Medication to reduce future outbreaks.
There's no happily ever after or magic fucking pill
to fix this, to fix how I loved him and trusted him
and was fed my heart on a platter of thistles,
with a side of silence and, now, shame.
So fuck silence. I'm hunting for the flock of other women,
intimidating precisely because they're an unknown,
and I'm asking them: what was your story?
Who were you to him? Who are you now?
Which of you was a beast-bride, and which a red-cloaked girl,
which a necrophiliac's dream, which a pale queen?
Have you suffered silence, infection, and rage?
Or were you somehow treasured, exempt, lucky?
I'll listen. I'll buy the next round.
I'll help you break your curse, too.
Jeana Jorgensen holds a PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She currently teaches at a Midwestern liberal arts college, while doing freelance writing and working in adult sex education. Most of her creative outlets relate to dancing, but she's recently returned to fiction and poetry after spending a decade exclusively writing and publishing academic nonfiction. She can be found at www.jeanajorgensen.com.
Photography: adapted from Große Klette (Arctium lappa) am Staden in Saarbrücken, by AnRo0002.