22nd Thread: My father did not dance to my mother’s lute.

Thesleff_Femme_guitareChacal_mauveCleopatra_arrives_LorrainBerthe-Morisot_2_femmes_tendres
The women arrived in a flutter of babble, rippling in their pink and yellow and sky blue clothes. They took their veils off, let their hair loose, and threw in the corners their slippers of silk and pearls. Once the maids had served delicacies as exquisite as jewels, the women played games. Musicians sat in one corner, all female, as were the dancers who would invite the guests to join in. Soon women were everywhere, dancing, singing, running after each other in peals of laughter. Others, clasped in a tender embrace, whispered the verses of an amorous poetess. Mama tolerated that I stay  and marvel at the femininity of her guests. But as soon as the masseuses arrived all dripping with curled hair and fragrant veils, I had to leave the room.

Wait, I’m almost done. Your skin is brown and soft, like my mother’s, and so is your hair! When it is combed I will rub in a few drops of aromatic oil and twist into three thick braids it so it doesn’t frizz.

When Father arrived home, the remains of the party scattered around the house would enrage him. He growled to my mother who was reclining on a sofa, her lovely hair spread on the cushions:
– If you do not teach this girl an honest woman’s work as well as a moral life, I will hire a governess.
When Father arrived home, the remains of the party scattered around the house would enrage him. He growled at my mother who was reclining on a sofa, her lovely hair spread over the cushions:
– If you do not teach this girl an honest woman’s work as well as a moral life, I will hire a governess.
She did not listen. She took up her lute and began to play. The verses of her song, in her language that you never learned, coiled out between her lips. Sometimes it made him angrier, other times, he would give up. Looking at him from under her brow, she whispered in her throaty voice:
– Dance!
– I can not dance, what do you want from me?
– Listen to the melody.
Femme_en_orient_couleurAs she bent down on her instrument, the loveliest tunes, sweet and wild at the same time, rose from its strings.
– This music comes from deep inside my heart, as it was given to me by my ancestors the jackal spirits. Take part in the divine, the sacred, as it is offered to you by your wife. Dance.
– I’ll call in your slaves, they dance better than I.
Under her angry pinch, the strings let out a screech. Then she left without a look behind her, her instrument thrown on a footstool. Her small bare feet, covered with intricate orange designs, slapped the floor as she walked away. Her anklets and their bells could still be heard, playing their chirpy melody in the corridors around us while Father and I sat in gloom. Father turned to me.
– What are you doing still up? We must go to bed early to accomplish as many tasks as possible the following day. Children need more sleep than adults. Why is your hair curled like a woman’s? Modesty and learning should be your best adornments. Bow to the hearth’s deities and, without fuss or futile embraces, go to bed.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment