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Poem: "Dinner for Four: A Sedoretu Romance" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Poem: "Dinner for Four: A Sedoretu Romance"
This poem is the second freebie for the February 6, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl, courtesy of new prompter [personal profile] erulisse. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] corvi. It also fills the "dinner for two" square in my 1-31-18 Romantic card for the Valentines Bingo fest.


"Dinner for Four:
A Sedoretu Romance"



The world goes on being the world,
no matter what happens to those upon it.

The old storyteller is gone now,
her words all fallen silent,
the sharp and the sweet
laid together in one grave.

But the world still turns on its toe;
the sun still rises and the moon still sets.

The Morning and the Evening
still seek each other's embrace.

Tanor and Erra are the Morning,
friends from childhood and
capable farmers both.

They feast on fresh vegetables
as the day breaks, and still feel lonely.

Farro and Niasa are the Evening,
traders who used to be rivals
before they fell in affection.

They gather what they can
from beside the road as they go,
but they wish for something more.

Tanor and Erra spot Niasa
in the marketplace, sidle up
and invite her to sit in the shade.

She likes them. She does.
They can see it in her eyes.

When Farro comes to see
why Niasa hasn't returned
with the day's purchases,
she laughs and pulls him
down to sit beside her.

The hours pass.

Erra and Farro go walking
by the river to try out
the Morning marriage,
whispering and giggling.

Niasa and Tanor hike
up the hill to try out
the Evening marriage,
singing a soft duet.

When they stars begin
to come out, they switch.

Erra and Niasa
exchange shy kisses
to taste the Day marriage.

Tanor and Farro
hold hands to feel out
the Night marriage

It's good, they decide,
they all decide together.

The moon sets and the sun rises;
the Morning and the Evening
find completion in each other.

A dinner for two becomes
a dinner for four, and
the world goes on.

Somewhere,
a storyteller smiles
down from the stars.

Somewhere, a new voice
takes up a fresh tale.

* * *

Notes:

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote the Planets of the Hainish Cycle. It introduces sedoretu, a type of group marriage. Here is an excerpt, widely reprinted, which details the arrangement:

"Mountain Ways"
Note for readers unfamiliar with the planet O:
Ki'O society is divided into two halves or moieties, called (for ancient religious reasons) the Morning and the Evening. You belong to your mother's moiety, and you can't have sex with anybody of your moiety.
Marriage on O is a foursome, the sedoretu — a man and a woman from the Morning moiety and a man and a woman from the Evening moiety. You're expected to have sex with both your spouses of the other moiety, and not to have sex with your spouse of your own moiety. So each sedoretu has two expected heterosexual relationships, two expected homosexual relationships, and two forbidden heterosexual relationships.
The expected relationships within each sedoretu are:
The Morning woman and the Evening man (the "Morning marriage")
The Evening woman and the Morning man (the "Evening marriage")
The Morning woman and the Evening woman (the "Day marriage")
The Morning man and the Evening man (the "Night marriage")
The forbidden relationships are between the Morning woman and the Morning man, and between the Evening woman and the Evening man, and they aren't called anything, except sacrilege.
It's just as complicated as it sounds, but aren't most marriages?
-- The Birthday of the World excerpts

In this poem:
Tanor is the Morning man.
Erra is the Morning woman.
Farro is the Evening man.
Niasa is the Evening woman.

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