?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Poem: "Welcome to Hart's Farm" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Welcome to Hart's Farm"
This poem is the freebie for the Crowdfunding Creative Jam, and pretty much dumps out the whole QUILTBAG.  It was inspired by a prompt from siege:

A rural family lives in a jumble of people, filling two smallish houses and working the fields. Is it a commune, a kibbutz, or something else? Does anyone care who's in which bed as long as the work gets done?
Well, that's where it started, in the late 1060s. Things got rather more convoluted since; the timeframe is somewhere 1870-1920. The result approximates a line marriage -- with everyone on the farm being considered part of the family, but those with a farmborn parent expected to choose outsider lovers -- only without being anywhere near as formal as a marriage. There seems to be quite a lot of mixing and matching, and the farm attracts a lot of eccentric creative people. Oh, and we're in Sweden, or a reasonable approximation of same.  You can find other poems in the Hart's Farm series via the Serial Poetry page.


Welcome to Hart's Farm


It was late summer when Auduna
made her way up the dusty road
to the tidy white-painted gate that stood
between the rowan trees heavy with orange fruit.

White chickens clucked and scratched
in the soft green grass beside the road,
where a barefoot woman stood with a small boy.
"Welcome," she said with a cheerful smile.
"I'm Frida, the seamstress, and this is my son Engelbert.
You must be Auduna. We've been expecting you."

Auduna nodded. "The tailor in town sent me,"
she said softly, "when I asked about work."
"We can always use help," Frida agreed, opening the gate.

Auduna brushed at the faded gray of her dress,
feeling shabby next to the seamstress
whose red-and-white checkered dress
stood out boldly against her bright blue apron.
Even little Engelbert had a light blue shirt
under his white jumper, topped by a darker blue hat.

Inside the fence, the farm stretched out
in a tumble of houses and barns, fields and gardens.
"Can you believe all this started with two little houses?
Cavan Hart arrived with Inghild, centuries ago
after the Norman Invasion, and settled here in Sweden
next to old man Olaf and his daughter Gudrun,"
Frida said, pointing to a pair of pink cottages.
"Then after people outgrew those,
they built the common house and everything else."

The tour of the common house was a riot of introductions:
the writer Svanhilda with her dark brown hair in a tail over her chest
who penned romances and horror stories,
the poet Lia with her long blond braid down her back,
Inge who was painting herself in the nude, her dark hair
piled loosely on her head where it hid nothing whatsoever --
and who all apparently kept company in various combinations --
plus Solvig in her prim black dress who slept alone
and was a scholar, currently trying to connect Basque
to some other European language.

The only man in the house at present
was the carpenter Arnvid, mending a cabinet door
with the help of his young daughter Astrid
who handed him tools upon request
and waved at Engelbert as they passed.
"Most everyone else is out in the fields,"
said Frida, "but you can meet them at supper."

"I've already met so many, I can hardly remember them,"
Auduna said faintly, "except perhaps for Inge."
"No one ever forgets Inge," Frida said with a chuckle.
"Now this is the laundry room and the linen closet,
where we could most use extra hands this time of year."
"I can wash and sew," Auduna said.

"You'll like Karin Ragnasdotter and Klara Karinsdotter,"
Frida said, and Auduna perked up at that
because Frida hadn't bothered with last names for anyone else --
and the use of matronymics instead of patronymics made her wonder.
"Yes, Karin came here just like you, though farther along,"
Frida said with a glance at Auduna's belly.

Blushing, Auduna dropped her hand
to cover the small bulge. She forgot about it,
sometimes, for hours at a stretch,
that little stone which the stream of her life
would have to flow around forever more.

Once again Frida made the introductions
while Auduna mustered a shy smile.
Karin's brown curls were working their way out of her bun
in the damp heat of the laundry room,
where her tow-headed daughter
folded pillowcases with practiced grace.

Engelbert was set on the floor with a basket of linens
for Auduna to mend. "He'll find the holes for you,"
Frida explained. "He's good at that."
So Auduna dutifully noted
where the wiggling fingers poked through,
and closed the holes with careful stitches,
appreciating how much easier the task was
with a new needle and thread on a proper spool.

By supper time they had finished the basket of mending,
and Auduna had a fresh dress as blue as the sky at noon
with a white apron embroidered in multicolored flowers.
Frida led them all to the big kitchen,
which held so many people that Auduna
nearly lost her nerve and fled back to the laundry room.
But Frida took one arm and Karin took the other
and they planted her firmly on a bench between them.

It was very strange to watch Inge
hugging and kissing her way around the room, still nude,
or to see the two writers bracketing the carpenter
and holding hands behind his back
so that he sat in the cradle of their arms,
and there was Solvig sitting not on a bench but
in her own chair at the end of one table with nobody touching her
as she delivered some sort of speech to a rapt audience.

In the end it was not so different after all, though --
they passed around big wheels of knäckebröd  (1)
with salted fish and yogurt, roast pork with apples,
vegetables from the gardens Auduna passed on the way in,
and klappgröt pudding with a choice of lingonberries or blackberries.  (2)
Auduna savored every bite, intensely grateful for the food,
and chased the last bit of berry juice around her plate
with a piece of bread.

Older children came to clear the dishes away,
and the carpenter got up to kiss some suntanned farm hand,
the large crowd breaking up into smaller clusters of people,
when Auduna abruptly realized
that she had no idea where she would be staying
or even if  she would be staying.

Frida came to her rescue again.
"Why don't you move in with me and Karin for now?"
she invited. "With two children in the cottage already,
we won't mind a new baby come winter,
if you don't mind our little ones underfoot."
Auduna hesitated, shifting in place.
Karin added, "Of course you can choose someone else,
now or later, or have anyone over to visit."

The idea of actually having a choice
was even stranger to Auduna
than seeing three people cuddling
or two men sharing an after-supper kiss
or a naked woman painting her own portrait.

She folded her hands over the hard little lump of her belly,
and gamely smiled at the two eager women,
then forced an answer past the smaller, tighter lump in her throat.
"Yes," Auduna said, "I will stay with you."

Everything was not all right in her world,
had not been so for a very long time,
but at least the dam had broken
and now the water was running free.

* * *

1) Knäckebröd  is a crisp, cracker-like bread often made in rounds with a hole in the middle so it may be stored on a rod.

2) Klappgröt  is semolina pudding whipped to a fluff with the juice of berries such as lingonberries, blackberries, or raspberries.

Tags: , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

41 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aura55 From: aura55 Date: February 19th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is absolutely lovely. =) I enjoyed reading it very much.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 19th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it. I have some previously established series with unusual relationships in them, like Schrodinger's Heroes, but this setting is new. If my fans latch onto it, I think it'll be my first romance-focused series. Because the world needs more romance that is not made of sterling-grade communicationFAIL.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: February 19th, 2012 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I sense another series beginning!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 19th, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

It can be, if people like this setting/character cast enough to request further poems!

Hart's Farm has some things in common with other series, such as a rural setting and appreciation of community, while other things are quite different, such as the country and sociosexual dynamics and density of creative people. I think that would lend itself to rather different storylines; I don't have another series with a strong focus on romantic/sexual relationships. I am also not sure how much local folklore will appear in this setting, but I won't be surprised if it does.
siege From: siege Date: February 19th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is beautiful, and more than I expected. Thank you.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 19th, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad you like it.

This was more than I expected, too; it kind of ate my Saturday. But that's okay, because the poem turned out really well and is proving popular. I got a lot of background information that will make it easier to write more poems about Hart's Farm if my fans give me future prompts.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: February 20th, 2012 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I like! I've been interested in various types of marriage since reading "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as a young'un.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 20th, 2012 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

There is already a second piece in this series, "In the Palms of My Hands," about Arnvid the carpenter and his relationships.

If you want more about the Hart marriage dynamics (or whatever), the Creative Jam is still open for prompts.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 20th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
oh, oh, *sniffles*

I do not know if I would like this life, but it would feel like home to my heart.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 20th, 2012 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you enjoyed this. (There is already another poem set here, "In the Palms of My Hands," described in the Creative Jam post and elsewhere.)

>>I do not know if I would like this life, but it would feel like home to my heart.<<

Well, it's a safe and relatively stable place to live, with good housing and good food. It supports both practical and creative work. It's an easy place to raise a family. These people are weird, but it's a pretty good kind of weird.

Mainly, you have to be tolerant of other people's quirks. But in return, other people respect your quirks and will generally not try to drag you into something that makes you feel creepy. Solvig, for instance, is physically aloof yet socially involved; and people are as accepting of that as they are of Inge running around nude hugging nearly everything that moves. There's probably a monogamous couple around too, somewhere.
laylalawlor From: laylalawlor Date: February 20th, 2012 07:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is really lovely. :) I'm an absolute sucker for the literary theme of "finding home", seeking a place we belong and people we belong among, and I think this tells such a story in a really beautiful way.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 20th, 2012 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>Oh, this is really lovely. :) <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> I'm an absolute sucker for the literary theme of "finding home", seeking a place we belong and people we belong among, and I think this tells such a story in a really beautiful way. <<

You pretty much just nailed one of the main themes for this series. There's already interest in the second poem, "In the Palms of My Hands," too.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: February 20th, 2012 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
The last time I saw anything like this sort of "marriage" was in Heinlein's book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".
I enjoyed reading this!
Makes me wonder where you'll take it from here.
:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 20th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>The last time I saw anything like this sort of "marriage" was in Heinlein's book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".<<

Yes, that's probably the most famous fictional description of a line marriage, which is among the closest structures to what I've described.

>>I enjoyed reading this!<<

Yay!

>>Makes me wonder where you'll take it from here.<<

It will be fun to see what prompts people make. There are lots of things that could be explored.
pico_the_great From: pico_the_great Date: February 21st, 2012 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Here from asexuality, and I've gotta say, I really liked this! I went into it unsure of the poetry format, but I'm pleased to see it worked really well, precisely because it's such a simple style, no extra fancies or anything.

My dad's side of the family is swedish, and so I'm extremely :D to see Sweden as a setting. Yay knäck! Yay lingonberries! Yay Swedish food in general!


I'm not really familiar with how the jam you linked works - would I just leave prompts or ideas? I would be delighted to see more of Solvig (or course), and actually to hear more of how Auduna integrates into this kind of household(s)!


Once again, good stuff!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 21st, 2012 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Welcome!

>>Here from asexuality, and I've gotta say, I really liked this! I went into it unsure of the poetry format, but I'm pleased to see it worked really well, precisely because it's such a simple style, no extra fancies or anything.<<

I'm happy to hear that! I do sometimes attract folks who aren't already poetry fans, and get them hooked. This here is free-verse narrative poetry, and I write a lot of it. I also like forms, though -- the Italian series Fiorenza the Wisewoman has a few sonnets, for instance.

>>My dad's side of the family is swedish, and so I'm extremely :D to see Sweden as a setting. Yay knäck! Yay lingonberries! Yay Swedish food in general!<<

Yay, reader with relevant experience! I was going to ask around my audience to see if anyone else had Swedish background. I'm careful with my research, but I can always use folks to fact-check or suggest ideas for cultures that I don't frequent myself.

Lingonberries are among my favorite fruit too.

>>I'm not really familiar with how the jam you linked works - would I just leave prompts or ideas? I would be delighted to see more of Solvig (or course), and actually to hear more of how Auduna integrates into this kind of household(s)!<<

The Crowdfunding Creative Jam happens about once a month on crowdfunding. People leave ideas in comments under the session post, then other folks claim whichever ideas they like for writing/art/etc. The past weekend's session is technically closed now, but I'll keep your prompts -- people are excited about this series, so I definitely plan to write more of it. It's pulling in new prompters and donors, which always makes me happy.

Meanwhile, the second Hart's Farm poem is in microfunding. "In the Palms of My Hands" shows the same day from the perspective of Arnvid the carpenter as he muses about his relationships and how people fit together. You can watch for new verses of that to appear as people sponsor them.

Edited at 2012-02-21 05:21 am (UTC)
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 22nd, 2012 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I soooo would love to be in a communal association like this. It seems so happy and accommodating. I'd have access to all the cuddles I would want without a lot of the other hangups that asexuals have to deal with. And I'd feel like I'd have a useful purpose within such a group.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 22nd, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like it.

Yes, things like this are why I often recommend that aces explore the idea of communal living. A healthy community is terrific for providing social contact, nonsexual touch, and stuff to do. There are a lot of different communities that work quite well, across many different models. It's usually not appealing to a hermit -- though there are a few communities that even cater to that -- but it's worth a look for many folks and a very good fit for some.

Plus a community is great for writing. You just never run out of ideas. Some of my other series like Fiorenza the Wisewoman and Monster House have different examples of community (a village and a shared house). So this one has a kind of extended-family-plus-found-family structure and adds romance as a prevailing theme.

I'm really looking forward to exploring more of Hart's Farm, and have some spare prompts. Some of my other ace friends found it because I pimped the QUILTBAG Creative Jam on the asexual LJ and DW communities.
freshbakedlady From: freshbakedlady Date: November 8th, 2013 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I've just started reading this series from the beginning, though I've read a few out of order as they've come out. I really like the welcoming feel of the community. I especially liked the contrast Solvig provided to the very touchy members of the community and the sense that her way of doing things is respected and celebrated just as much as Inge's way.

Are you familiar with the graphic novel, The Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley? It has a similar community of diverse characters forming a found-family in a shared compound, though they don't necessarily form romantic ties with one another. It's one of my favorite comfort reading books and I love how much this series reminds me of it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 15th, 2013 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> I've just started reading this series from the beginning, though I've read a few out of order as they've come out. <<

I'm glad you liked it enough to read the whole thing. This series isn't as tightly connected as some others are, so most of its poems stand alone well.

>> I really like the welcoming feel of the community. <<

That's the main appeal, and part of the original prompt.

>> I especially liked the contrast Solvig provided to the very touchy members of the community and the sense that her way of doing things is respected and celebrated just as much as Inge's way. <<

They're accepting of almost everything. It wears a bit thin with another reserved character, but Ragi has a huge case of self-loathing. They're kind of not comfortable with him hating himself. That's in "The Needs of the Many, the Flesh of the One" which hasn't been posted yet.

>> Are you familiar with the graphic novel, The Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley? It has a similar community of diverse characters forming a found-family in a shared compound, though they don't necessarily form romantic ties with one another. It's one of my favorite comfort reading books and I love how much this series reminds me of it. <<

No, but it sounds lovely. I like families of choice.
41 comments or Leave a comment