I am imagining a very affectionate biromantic asexual genderqueer character who has a passion for gardening, especially growing edible herbs and plants, and loves getting the children involved in the garden too.
The result is "Rosehips and Honey," showing how children are taught through the process of everyday tasks, and how this little community gives people space to express themselves each according to their own nature. You can read more about Hart's Farm on the Serial Poetry page.
This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: rickybuchanan, janetmiles, lb_lee, sundart
97 lines, Buy It Now = $48.50
Amount donated = $30.50
Verses posted = 11 of 18
Amount remaining to fund fully = $18
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $2
Rowen dresses carefully in a white shift
with a blue-striped overdress, pins her red curls
under a cap, and smoothes her hands down her flat chest.
In these clothes, she feels like herself, and is content.
She collects a small flock of children from their parents:
blond Bjarni and ruddy Engelbert from their father Finlo,
Birgitta from her mother Aisling, their hair the same shade of red-gold,
Astrid from the carpentry workshop where she helps her father Arnvid.
They are nieces and nephews of various flavors,
always eager to spend an afternoon with Auntie Rowen.
They walk through the greenhouse that shelters the tender plants:
tomato vines growing to the glass ceiling, cucumbers too,
stout green peppers and fluffy lettuce, and the long flats
of fresh herbs like basil and rosemary and sweet marjoram.
Rowen shows them what to pick for their little baskets.
The outdoor herb garden holds more culinary and medicinal varieties.
Tall angelica stands in the back, with horseradish and yarrow
in the middle giving way to low-growing borders of
thyme, chamomile, and hyssop. Mint spills out of brilliant pots
while hops drape languidly along the fence.
Rowen leads her flock through the vegetable garden
with its rows of peas and beans waiting to be dried, sweet beetroots,
round heads of cabbage, leeks and onions in long green spears.
The winter squashes are turning colors now;
the parsnips and turnips and swedes will ripen soon.
Here they stop, where the vegetable garden
lets out into the orchard, a border of rosebushes
leading to row after row of apples, pears, plums, and cherries.
This is where the bees live, humming away the summer
in their little skeps made of coiled straw.
Now the children crowd close, and Rowen lets them
climb over her like so many squirrels on a tree.
She teaches them the charm "For a Swarm of Bees,"
to keep the busy victory-women here in their homes.
She tells them the story of Odin and his Othroenir,
the mead of inspiration, and how he lay down with
the giantess Gunnlod to learn the mysteries of its making.
"Who can tell me what else we do with honey?" Rowen asks.
"We put it in porridge!" says Engelbert.
"We make cough candy with it," says Birgitta.
"We use it to bake honey cookies," says Astrid.
"Those are all good answers," Rowen tells them.
Bjarni tugs on her skirt and says,
"Auntie Rowen, the roses are dying."
He points to the yellowing leaves around
the last red and pink roses of summer.
"They're not dying," Rowen explains.
"They're just getting ready for their winter sleep."
She shows him the tiny buds hidden by the leaves.
"These will become new leaves and flowers in spring."
"Look, the rosehips are getting ripe," says Astrid.
"Yes, let's pick some," Rowen suggests. "Mind the thorns!"
The children carefully gather a basket full of small red fruits.
"What do we make with these?" Rowen asks.
"Sauce and jelly," says Engelbert.
"The red tea that's good for colds," says Birgitta.
At the end of the rose hedge, they find Inge,
nude as usual, curled up on the ground,
sketching a toad that sits beneath a bush.
The toad regards them all with solemn golden eyes.
Inge closes her sketchbook and comes to hug Rowen.
The soft hills and valleys of Inge's body are familiar
to Rowen's hands, as Rowen's lean plains are known
to Inge. They have mapped what places they choose
to share with each other, and skirted around those
that Rowan prefers to leave fallow.
The children giggle. Rowen and Inge part
with a chaste kiss. Then Bergren arrives,
tall and handsome, to crown Rowen and Inge with
garlands of flowers. He lifts Bjarni onto his shoulders.
Perhaps tonight Bergren will sing love songs to the women
while they gather around the piano. Perhaps, too,
Rowen will decide to sleep beside him tonight
and share the warmth of their bodies as the day's heat fades.
His fingers find hers, wrapped around the handle of a basket,
and they hold hands as they all walk to the common house.
When they arrive, Una is waiting in the kitchen,
her blond hair braided atop her head, her white apron crisp.
She accepts the baskets of herbs and rosehips,
praising the children for their work,
and gives Rowen a motherly hug for teaching them.
Then Bergren takes the little ones to wash up.
Inge settles herself at a table near a window,
opens her sketchbook, and resumes work on the toad.
Rowen sits across from Inge, kicks off her shoes,
and reaches her long legs to play with Inge's bare toes.
Rowen knows that she will never leave
as some of the farmborn do,
scattering to the winds like so many wild geese.
She has visited the world beyond
and found it not to her liking, how
men are expected to be always one way
and women always another,
with no room in between for anything else.
Hart's Farm is Rowen's home.
In this place, she can be herself,
and is content.