SUGAR MAGNOLIA WILSON
From the Dear Sister series
I write to you this morning from my desk overlooking the garden. I can see Toby clearing grass from beside the path where I walked this morning. The way my shoes crunch upon the white pebbles on the path, I find it pleases me. There is something about our clothes, the taffeta, silks, stitched leather of our shoes, the sounds they make against the world, brushing upon things, rustling, that satisfies me so much and I do not know why. I wonder if any person from the past or the future has thought or will think the same; Oh, I like the way this stiff linen cuff feels brushing against the paper as I write, or, I love the sound of mother’s shoes clicking deeply on the cool marble of the passageway.
This morning the sun rose like jewellery, only, so much more than jewellery and less of that lonely feeling that gifts of precious stones and metals gives me. What is it with men and things. Here is this little transparent chunk of earth, stick it to your finger and now give me your person, your selfhood, your body, all the hours of the rest of your days. My heart belongs to mornings like this one. It was my own. The world was still and alive and I could hear men in the distance beginning to husband their animals. A far away dog was barking, someone calling out to her children.
Today I have decided to write to you as if I were a man. So. Dear sweet sister of mine. Today I took a walk to the local store and I took my beagle with me. His hair is greying and his gait uneven and he is slow. He was on a long leather leash and the morning sun flickered off his eyes, pale and fiery. The morning air was bracing and so I took many healthful deep breaths, slow and repeated until I felt like a great train carrying a cargo of personal industry forward into the future. As I puffed and chugged my way along the country path to the store my train tune became; I shall make the future brighter, I shall make the future brighter, I shall make the future brighter, and my plumes of breath that were really smoke rose up and up until the whole world and the surrounding lands were covered in my grease and grime and to run my finger down any tree trunk or barn wall or stone fence brought the tip of my finger back as if I’d plunged it right into the heart of darkness. And I had ruined the world. And so, my dear sweet sister, although I myself am a man, I have come to the conclusion that a) men are terrible and b) they will ruin absolutely everything. PS – He whose name will never cross my lips again, is a hound and I wish he would be hanged.
I am so tired today. Small birds that I am sure belong on dune slopes near the ocean keep circling above our land. They start out near the river and I can only see a faint shape moving in the sky, but they wheel closer and hang like a single feathered lung over our house, inhaling and exhaling. Maybe it is the lung of our family, maybe they sense us, and like a painter their shapes are a natural representation of our familial disparate togetherness. The birds are our collective spirit rendered as a portrait by nature. Or, maybe I am just bored and tired. Life can be so boring. Have you noticed this? This is when my brain turns faster, the water pushing against the paddles of my waterwheel, and I’m sewing and tending and harvesting crops that no one has need for. I am hungry, but cannot eat my own produce because why would I? What taste would it give me that I do not already know so well, what thing would it bring to me, that if I were a god I could not already create, knowing every tiny symbol and equation that had to exist in this specific arrangement of factors, I could click my fingers and this thing would be so. Exactly. Again and again, over and over. OH LIFE! Tell me something interesting, sweet sister! Fuel me with otherness, strangeness, filth. Tell me about a time when you were down on your knees, acting outside of your nature. Tell me you are not really my sister.
I have been gifted a horse by Elizabeth and Ernest (I have decided not use familial pleasantries anymore). I haven’t ridden her yet because I haven’t been to see her although she’s been here for a week now. She stands out in the east field and I watch her from my room. She is a landscape of muscle and curve, a continent upon which the shadows of clouds pass. Sometimes she appears dark and stormy-skinned, her flanks rocky and strange in that way that nature is indifferent and strange. Sometimes she stands beneath the oak and is dappled in the gentlest part of spring, her legs sighing their length to the ground, her mane and tail lifting a little at the edges in the warm winds. She lifts her head to smell the seasonal change. My urge to run to her and push my face deep into the places where her muscles join is strong, to soak up the scent of animal ripeness. But I don’t.
I think the theory presented here, by this gifted horse is; you can’t take the wild from the heart of the girl, but that maybe you can put the wild girl upon a horse and teach her to master some of her own terrible hysteria. I’m expected to ride her and learn to hold my tongue. But really she is a strange letter with a heartbeat asking me not to be myself.
A horse will not be my salvation, and so I will not name her.
Dear Sister, I have named the horse. She is Lilith.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sugar Magnolia Wilson is a Wellington based poet originally from the Far North. She has had work published in various online and print journals and had her chapbook, Pen Pal, published by Cats and Spaghetti Press in 2013. She is also co-editor of the literary journal, Sweet Mammalian. Dear Sister is an ongoing work of letters from an increasingly strange woman to her never-replying sister.