Hans Christian Anderson got it wrong:
the Little Match Girl did not die
of exposure. No—
she arranged what remained of her inventory
strategic as an arsonist,
wore taps on her shoes to keep time clackclackclack jigging on cobblestones
whilst around her, flames bright as a party dress,
centre-ville dissolving into hot ash and smoke
as the match girl laughed and thumped
her feet, awkward and resplendent,
and, finally, at the last,
The Pythia, Oracle at Delphi, was (scholars report)
the most powerful woman of the Ancient World,
sought out by royalty and commoner alike to answer their questions
and predict their fates, prognostications she offered them
in dactylic hexameter as elegant and epic as any Homer wrote
though (others footnote) every fortune the Oracle uttered was claimed
to come out as hysterical raving in need of translation by her priestly keepers—
acolytes of Apollo and collectors of the payment each pilgrim brought
in tribute to the God and to his Voice—
the truth lying, as it always does, somewhere between
frenzied gibberish and enigmatic prophecy,
between priestess and priests
between woman and man. Continue reading “Oracle”→
I am filled with grief this morning for Melania Trump.
I watched her husband’s tasteless speech at the Al Smith charity dinner last night, in which he repeatedly and grotesquely insulted Hillary Clinton to her face. [Apparently this event has a longstanding tradition of both presidential candidates showing up to “roast” one another.] And I noted the ease with which Trump shifted into humiliating Melania as a tactic to garner audience support.
When the audience laughed—and laugh they did, breaking for a moment the tension of that excruciating speech—they laughed because for a moment his target felt like a safe one. What husband would say such a thing if his wife weren’t in on the joke, right? And maybe they laughed because they slipped into the same blurred distinctions as Donald, using his wife as a lightning rod for their discomfort with him just as he jabbed at her in a pretense of self-deprecating humor.
But a wife is not mere extension of the man she has married. Make no mistake: that was spousal abuse on display last night, as Trump commanded Melania to stand for the people laughing at him making fun of her. When he admitted that he had not warned her in advance of the humiliation he had planned, he used her own loyalty against her and cornered her into either immediately absolving him or making a scene at a hugely public event.
The evening started harmlessly enough, psyching myself up for the inevitable horror that will be the third and final presidential debate the way any normal gal does: drinking wine and tweeting quotes about tampons…
By the way, any of y’all who Twitter do follow@ESTBLSHMNT*, yes? Cuz if not, you wanna get on that PRONTO.
*The Establishment, as you may or may not know (but, like, TOTALLY WANNA KNOW), is an online women’s magazine and not“the establishment” that folks get so grumbly about, politically speaking. Though that hasn’t stopped some folks from grumbling at them on Twitter!
Exactly why is @ESTBLSHMNT the single greatest magazine twitter account out there, you may be asking?
I have no more interest in being “championed and revered” by my government than I have in being crotch-grabbed by it. 
“Hitting on a married woman” is not on par with sexual assault, not even close—a point easy to miss if your primary concern is with insults to “our wives and daughters” rather than to half the American citizenry. 
And when you express your concern as “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner”—then spend the rest of your weekend huddled in presidential debate-prep with the man who so described us—you confirm that window-dressing matters to you more than substance. That you are willing to see me as a p***y to be grabbed, just so long as that p***y-grab is not talked about. 
In sum: Do not revere us.
Do not pretend to own us.
Do not clean up your language in our presence.
Just stop pretending you are not an equal sh!tstain on our polity to your man who would be king.
Here is a sentence I never expected to type: I am transfixed by North Dakota.
Specifically, I am transfixed by the events unfolding in North Dakota right now.
For those of you not yet in the know, North Dakota is where the Standing Rock Sioux, other Native American tribes, and their supporters are gathered in protest of a multi-million-dollar oil pipeline project being built across reservation lands, destroying cultural heritage sites and endangering local water supplies. [Here’s a primer, current up to five days ago.]
Honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to locate North Dakota on a map. Both Dakotas fall into my schema of the US states as “one of those square ones in the middle,” and on days like this, I wish my early teachers had felt a little more oomph to teach us the states, instead of the European map I had to draw year after year. (Pointing out Yugoslavia on a topo has proven to be not quite the necessary life skill my Sedgewick Junior High social studies department apparently expected.)