This poem came out of the April 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from janetmiles and my_partner_doug. It also fills the "too cold / too hot" square on my 2-1-14 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to The Ocracies series, and it matches "Casting for Answers" (the Patriarchy of Darthalem) and "It Takes Three" (the Matriarcy of Sherin).
The Duarchy of Twale
lay in the soft folds of land between
the Patriarchy of Darthalem
in the high cold mountains
and the Matriarchy of Sherin
in the low sweltering desert.
It was perhaps inevitable that
they had looked on either side of them
and decided that there must be a better way.
So the people of Twale
had inquired if there might be
another option besides men and women,
and after quite a lot of searching
they discovered a few people
who were some flavor of both.
Hands were pointed toward
the desert and the mountains,
entreaties to duty and sanity were made,
and in the end a small council of
duogendrous people were handed
control of the government.
They had a certain sympathy
for each of the other genders,
but no inclination to favor either --
nor even their own, since they were
not all of the same exact nature.
Instead they proved open to opinions
from any and all directions,
temperate in politics
as in all else.
The people of Darthalem and Sherin
eyed them with wary suspicion,
uncertain whether to place them
in the high or the low rank;
but it didn't matter which,
because the Twalen folk
ignored gender rankings altogether.
Besides, it was easier on everyone
to have a buffer in the middle
so that Darthalem and Sherin
were not constantly at war.
* * *
Several words basically mean "government of two." A duocracy has a strong leader and a strong parliament. Duarchy, diarchy, and dinarchy all mean "rule by two." I picked duarchy as a good term for "rule by two-spirit people."
Genderqueer people have an identity outside the standard male/female binary. In Native American culture, the intertribal term for this is "two-spirit," although individual tribes have their own vocabulary and the specifics vary a lot. They are considered holy people because they have the spirits of both man and woman, believed to be wise leaders and powerful shamans.