"Casting for Answers"
The Patriarchy of Darthalem
occupies the mountain peaks
where the ice clings long into spring,
and down the sides of the slopes
clad in deep green fir trees.
It is a good place
to fall and break your neck,
or to set an ambush for your foes,
and so a great many men
get themselves killed
before they can take a wife.
With so many men,
the strongest gather up
as many women as they can
afford to support in a vast mansion,
although it must be admitted that
the men of the orange caste
don't care much for any particular wife.
Other men content themselves
with just one woman and a cottage.
The families of the blue caste
are small but fierce in devotion.
The weakest of the men
are little better than women,
and indeed, often share their professions.
The men of the yellow caste typically work
for the men of the orange caste as servants,
or even catamites, delicate as they seem.
Yet a yellow man will wink
at an orange man's neglected wife
and give her a good time
while the orange man is out
driving his poor blue neighbor
out of a space in the market square.
The blue wife is content,
and will not lie with a yellow man,
but the yellow is busy in the orange court.
Oh, there is ice on the mountains
that shatters and chimes in the spring,
but there is no ice in the hearts
of the folk of Darthalem,
who are more passionate than
their neighbors would ever believe.
Their craggy homeland
may have set them a puzzle,
but they have no trouble
casting for answers.
* * *
Darthalem is patriarchal (ruled by men) and patrilineal (tracing male ancestors). It is primarily neolocal (husband and wife moving out to form a fresh household together).
The side-blotched lizard has complex and diverse sexual dynamics, as described in this cute cartoon which helped inspire the poem.
This also ties into the Matriarchy of Sherin and the Duarchy of Twale.