Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Unconquered Lands"

This poem is from the October 20, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] librarygeek and [personal profile] janetmiles. It also fills the "cuddle with a friend or pet or pillow" square in my 5-20-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest, and the "make-up" square in my 10-1-15 card for the Halloween / Samhain Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to The Ocracies series.

"Unconquered Lands"

The Hetaerocracy of Tizou was
not a land that had been taken
but one that had been given.

It was a quiet little pocket
between the Hoplarchy of Ledes
and the Patriarchy of Darthalem

where for years men had
taken their mistresses and
given them presents until
the gifts of land and homes
and wealth constituted
an entire country.

Destiny, like diamonds,
sometimes came in
small packages.

Tizou was a hetaerocracy
because first of all it had been
founded thanks to the courtesans,
and second of all because they had
the best ability to smooth the way
and coax people into doing
whatever was needed.

These were good things,
and people appreciated them.

So Tizou became the place where
men went for comfort when they
wanted a kiss or just a cuddle, and
where women went when they
wanted a vacation from men.

It was where Godolfus
the First General of Ledes
slept in the arms of his painted lady,
and where Chrysanthe of Sherin
went to relax in a quaint cabin
with a singular view.

Of course, when a society
that prized emotional openness
neighbored ones that valued stoicism,
there were bound to be conflicts --
but most of those came between
partners contracted for pleasure
rather than for matrimony.

Godolfus, who was a hero
even to the valet he had once
pulled out of a smashed wagon,
was to his hetaera just a client who
had to be wheedled into eating
anything that had leaves in it.

Chrysanthe, who was in charge of
a whole oasis, took holidays where
she met with woman-friends and
painted each other's faces, whispering
secrets, complaints, and possible solutions.

Making the effort to get along with each other
across such cultural divides was not always
easy, but it was always worthwhile.

* * *


A hetaera is a sophisticated courtesan. Hetaerocracy is when they form a government. In this case, it is charaterized by a subtle and genteel form of influence rather than brute force.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, politics, reading, weblit, writing
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