Monday, July 19, 2010

Story: "Letters, Crones Dont Worry Of " |feminist tale for you & you & you (Fairy Tale Review)

Letters, Crones Dont Worry Of

I here relate an episode that befell me many years ago. I had lived near seventeen years, was big of rump and uncommonly meloned of bosoms surely for one with no babe suckling (as is the honor of woman). My frocks held close against my comely portions, such was the common fashion in those years as ladies so begarbed themselves in swaths of silk, as station allowed. And yet it should not matter to this tale what was my look nor how I hid my shame, as Eve never did from Adam whilst the Lord’s bounty was theirs. For I am but she the teller, one person and female amid all the wonders of man, and it is only my own mannish pride, I am supposing, which compels me in the telling.

Back when my life was fine, I never thought about the Crones. It is just the wind, I always allowed, crying to the frozen stars.

Now, in the house in which I was girled and womaned there were four, being as I transcribe. My father, Albinus, tall as a spire and learned as all ministers of universities, but his own man who hoed and planted, then retired to the elm’s shade to read his volumes, his French and his Latin and Greek. His hands were callused from work honest as sweet Mother of God’s blessed soul. His fingertips smoothed from brushing vellum in the evenings to guide his eyes from page to page.

My mother Mary was like her holiest namesake a devout woman who implored the rest of us to clutch faith within our hearts; hope was her gift as learning was my father’s. He was stern it is true but kind in soul whilst my mother, to bring a contrast, was gently sad, like a cloud that cannot stay in any one place. When, like the cloud, her sadness lifted as if had been plucked by angels on high, she would tell us that was how evil would flee those who, being hearttrue, were worthy of eternity with the heavenly saints.

Of saints what did the Crones know? My mother was not the sort of woman to know of the howling Crones.

Scotus was my brother and whilst owing to a palsied body he could never leave his bed of goosey, was dear as smallest feathered creature, fluttering to learn whatever he could in his mock terrain. Scotus and my humblest self, myself being Constance, meaningless tho it is for me to say, never wearied of reading to one another in what languages we mustered, tho I never have the gift of ease with the foreign. Scotus was the more learned of us, his time abed conspiring with his patience of which I have so little, to enable his efforts as a lettered man.
Letters were not something Crones put a thought to, not there in their darkened moor.
We were a happy family until the shadow from nowhere a geographer could name darkened our last few days together like the mist the Lord of All sent over the new land, as is written so early in the Holy Bible’s old testament of creation.

For a fifth soul was to be added to our simple family and she was a sister. Id have had a sister, younger, whose golden hair I might have plaited and whose girlish glee and plumpness would have filled my days. Yet she did not live out the passage from my mother’s belly to this vale of tears, nor did my mother keep breath in her bellows and soon from grief and to be with them both, did my father so die. And as we comforted one each to the other, Scotus and I, his health turned quick awful and he returned to dust. God has willed all to die, and those who alive are left are sad and punished.

I buried my brother in the cold earth that never is lifted like a cloud by the angels cept the one time a rock was rolled from the cave to return God to God. Even the King of Brits and His Cousins upon the Continent or in Spain are not spared from the final bed of dust and mud.

And the shrieks of the Crones confirmed what I say. The shrieks of the Crones were the shrieks of the soul.

I found no consoling thought or deed to turn light to my sorrows, tho townspeople were generous in the way we are one to another, leaving turnips, sprigs of hollyhock or horsefloppy dried to flare a flagging flame. Suitors came to court, to save me from the worst you might conceive, a woman of her own means, but I was inconsolable.
And inconsolable, began to heed the crones’ eerie laughs I heard at times from thicket and heath.

Id sit by the hearth grown cold as the Devil’s brass throne and clutch my sides and grip so strong my flesh that marks would bloom like a goblin’s heather, blue against my pale. I felt not my cutting and pinching, but was like to the Dear Women weeping at Our Lord on the cross. Distance there was between me and living, a cushion of air thick and foreboding as that before a storm descends to ravage innocent nature.

Yes, the shrieks of the Crones will flame at your ears when you weep the sadness of life on earth.

The Crones lived away from the town in a hut or a manse, it is hard to say, that made mock of the snugness of our cottage. Wind whipped through its walls yet candles didnt flicker. As I think now, Id always knew they were there, gray and great of hair bundled white and black about their shrewd faces.

Feeling I must join my family, began I to pack our trove to spare the villagers who had laid turnips at my door from needing to finish my family grief. And then I was to walk to the riverbank and hurl my meaningless form into its icicle depths and hope mercy and forgiveness would guide my spirit.

But as I packed my father’s New Testament, in the Greek which is sad so few can read, I saw the words of the Apostle who divinely spoke.
In the Beginning.
Oh the shrieks of the Crones, oh, the shrieks of the Crones, they fought with my brain and my thinking.

My black eyes held to the word meaning word, which I knew meant {and pardon if I sound like a learned person which you must know if you are this far into my tale I am not} Rationality and Reason. In the beginning was Reason?

No Reason there was to the wails of the crones but comfort perverse, o comfort perverse.

And I knew. When God the Jesu asked God the Almighty why He forsook Him, the world felt the shrieks of the Crones. The Crones were older than God, and they shrieked for Our Lord and my family.

So I will join them; I will be a Crone and I will shriek o I will shriek, I will shriek as a Crone for us all.

Sarah Sarai, pub. in Fairy Tale Review, 2009 {The Aquamarine Issue}


  1. Sarah,
    What a compelling read. It may seem strange, but I felt as though I was there, seeing the images that you had written about.

    Best wishes,

  2. Eileen,
    Thank you! That is such an exciting thing to hear, that my fiction worked. I so appreciate your taking the time to comment and wish you all the best and then a little more and then a lot more.