Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Boston Wives"

This poem came out of the March 17, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "Popcorn" square in my 3-1-20 card for the Food Fest Bingo.


"Boston Wives"

[Monday, September 28, 2015]

"Grab the popcorn, grab the popcorn!"
Actuator said, diving for the couch.

"I've got it," Joint said as she
hurried into the living room.

The popcorn was lavender in
both color and flavor, drizzled
with white and dark chocolate.

"You want some?" Joint asked
as she sat down beside Socket.

"Nah, I'm good," Socket said, and
returned to licking out half a papaya.

Fortressa sat on the other side of
Socket. "Boston Wives sounds
interesting. What do you think?"

"Anything that's all about relationships
between women will work for me,"
Penny said. "Plus I'm really eager
to see the period costuming in it."

"So is this show gonna be anything like
Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less?"
said Socket. "Don't get me wrong, it's good,
but there's way too little sex in there."

"Oh yeah," Actuator said, throwing
popcorn in her mouth. "It's on satellite,
not broadcast, so there's no nudity taboo.
I heard they're gonna fuck onscreen."

Fortressa sighed. "I'm not watching
porn with you girls," she said.

"No, don't get up!" Socket said.
"It's about these women who live in
a brownstone -- one lesbian couple,
one queerplatonic, and some students."

"I could get behind queerplatonic, as long
as there's not too much sex," Fortressa said.

"Let's just watch and see how it looks,"
Penny said. "It's supposed to be good."

"What genre is this?" asked Primer.
"I haven't heard anything about this
just you folks going crazy over it."

"It's sort of like an Eastern -- set in 1895
in Boston and it's about Boston marriages --
only not in the real world, some other world
where the old Arts and Crafts Movement
took over everything," Penny explained.

"Well, it's starting, so shut up and
watch the show," said Toggle Key,
and everyone quieted down.

A pencil crawled across the screen,
sketching a vine on a trellis. Colors
followed the charcoal, green leaves
and pink roses opening. Birds fluttered
among the branches and built a nest.

Then the branches extended and
unfurled to read Boston Wives,
followed by the names of actresses
and the characters they portrayed.

"Oh, that's pretty," Penny said.
"Now I want a scarf of that."

The climbing rose gave way to
a street scene in Boston with
couples holding hand, slowly
focusing in on the women.

The Public Garden had a pond
where more couples rode on
boats carved with swans, and
then the camera zoomed in on
the rowhouses across the street.

"I could build a boat like that,"
Fortressa mused. "I like the swan."

Holding hands, two women walked
from Arlington to Beacon, then
kissed before parting company.

As the first episode unfurled,
Jennie Gilman presided over
the Liberal Arts office where
her father William was the dean.

Jennie managed paperwork,
taught classes in English and
Journalism, and kept watch
over the college girls.

"Talk about a double shift,"
Primer muttered. "She's doing
a secretary job and a teacher job."

Then Jennie had to comfort one
of her attic tenants, Helen Gray,
whose father was trying to pull
her out of college and back home.

Eventually the women prevailed.

Helen got to stay, and Jennie
showed her that journalists weren't
the only women who could make
money from their writing, so Helen
would be prepared to support herself
if her father tried to cut her off again.

"They sure showed him," Primer said.

After school, Jennie met up with
her partner Mabel Bryant, who worked
for the Boston Police Department
as a Woman Interview Officer.

Helen walked home with
her friend Bertha Warren,
one of several college girls
renting an attic bedroom there.

At home, supper was waiting for them,
courtesy of the cook Emma Bigelow,
so they didn't have to make their own.

Her partner was Margaret Lawrence,
who did most of the housework.

"See now, it makes sense
to divide the labor, you just
don't have to do that by
crotch shape," said Joint.

After supper, the women
played a few hands of bridge
down in the living room.

Then Mabel retreated to
her office, Jennie to her study,
and the girls to the library.

Eventually Mabel and Jennie
made it up to the master bedroom,
where they made love by candlelight.

"Yummy," Socket whispered.

At the very end, the view
shifted up to Emma and
Margaret, as they took turns
reading romantic poems
illustrated with colorplates.

"Aww," Fortressa said. "I like
that they can be friends and
not get pushed into more."

As the credits rolled,
Actuator poured the last
of the popcorn in her mouth.

"Well, that was awesome,"
she said. "I'm definitely a fan."

Murmurs of agreement
rippled around the room.

"I love how they kept
zooming in on little details
of art and architecture,"
Penny said. "I could
probably copy some
of those costumes."

"Yeah, somebody spent
forever on those sets,"
Toggle Key said.

"I know, but what
a job!" Primer said.

"Fortressa, what do you
think?" Socket asked.

"I think," Fortressa said as
she picked up the empty bowl,
"we're going to need more popcorn."

* * *

Notes:

Mabel Bryant -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long curly brown hair that she usually pins up in rolls. She is tall and sturdy with a wide round face. Mabel works as a Woman Interview Officer for the Boston Police Department in Boston, Massachusetts after graduating from the Winter Hill Business College with a degree in Criminal Justice. At work, she wears a uniform of navy blue with a lighter blue blouse. At home, she wears rational dress, often in dark blue, gray, or brown.

Jennie Gilman -- She has pale skin, blue eyes, and long wavy blonde hair that she usually puts up in a bun. She usually wears dresses in soft shades of blue, lilac, or rose. Jennie works at the Winter Hill Business College. She teaches women's classes in journalism and English. She also serves as the secretary for her father William, who is the dean of the Liberal Arts Department. Jennie is in a Boston marriage with another lesbian, Mabel Bryant. They share a townhouse at 1 Arlington. A queerplatonic couple, Emma Bigelow (the household cook) and Margaret Lawrence (the housekeeper) share the terrace bedroom on the fourth floor. Several college girls rent each of the two attic bedrooms on the fifth floor.

Emma Bigelow -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes, and long curly hair of light brown that she usually pulls back in a bun. She has soft curves and an oval face. Emma is asexual and has a queerplatonic partner, Margaret Lawrence. They live in Boston, Massachusetts in a townhouse at 1 Arlington where they share the terrace bedroom on the third floor. Emma serves as the cook for the household.

Margaret Lawrence -- She has pale skin, brown eyes, and long wavy hair of dark brown that she usually puts in a French roll. She has a long oval face with a pointy chin, and a distinct hourglass body with big breasts and hips. Margaret is asexual and has a queerplatonic partner, Emma Bigelow. They live in Boston, Massachusetts in a townhouse at 1 Arlington where they share the terrace bedroom on the third floor. Margaret serves as the housekeeper for the household.

Emma Bigelow in White Dress, Margaret Lawrence in Striped Scarf


Helen Gray -- She has pale skin, brown eyes, and long straight hair of dark brown usually done up in a soft pile. She is friends with Bertha Warren. They live in Boston, Massachusetts in a townhouse at 1 Arlington where they share the front attic bedroom on the fourth floor along with two other college girls. They are attending the Winter Hill Business College, where Helen studies English Literature.

Bertha Warren -- She has tinted skin, black eyes, and long wavy hair of dark brown often worn loose. She is friends with Helen Gray. They live in Boston, Massachusetts in a townhouse at 1 Arlington where they share the front attic bedroom on the fourth floor along with two other college girls. They are attending the Winter Hill Business College, where Bertha studies Journalism.

Helen Gray by Wall, Bertha Warren by Window

* * *
Enjoy a recipe for Lavender Popcorn.

Papaya
Papaya is a tropical fruit that can be served in various ways. The Hawaiian papaya is about the size and shape of a pear. If you don't mind messy eating, you can cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and eat it out of the rind. Lesbians sometimes do this to show off their oral sex skills.

Boston marriages likely included a mix of lesbian, asexual, and other queerplatonic arrangements.

In Terramagne-America, the standard television season currently lasts from September through May. In theory, one episode per week for nine months would add up to 36 episodes. However, most shows don't produce that many episodes, starting later, ending earlier, and/or taking a break around the holidays. They range from 20-30 episodes with an average of 24. A new series typically launches with 20-22 episodes in its first season. This gives a show time to find its legs and its audience, although abysmal ratings may still get it canceled and replaced with something else. It also avoids the problem of shooting only half the season and then having to scramble to finish it. If a show proves popular, it often expands to 24-26. The most popular shows tend to run 30, and a rare few go longer. This system rewards viewers for watching the show by giving them more of it. A summer series or midseason replacement usually runs 10-13 episodes. Indie productions, webserials, and other alternative venues favor the 10-13 size, rarely shorter, sometimes longer.

Read about "Easterns as a Genre."

Women, Their Rights and Nothing Less is a Boston marriage show about suffragettes and other feminists living in Boston during the Gilded Age. (See also America 1865-1900.) They fall in love or friendship, struggle to support themselves, and choose to base their lives primarily around other women. It launched in 2013 and is currently running.

Boston Wives is a Boston marriage show set in 1895, but with an alternate history twist that the Arts and Crafts Movement never ended and defined the global culture from then on.

Brownstone is a brown Triassic-Jurassic sandstone used in architecture, a distinctive part of some cities including Boston. It has also come to refer to buildings made of that stone.

See the house at 1 Arlington.

Here is a similar set of floor plans. The part of the basement with the fireplace is a guest room. The rest of the basement holds a laundry, other utilities, and storage. On the first floor, the office belongs to Mabel. On the second floor, the library is shared by everyone. On the third floor, Mabel and Jennie share the master bedroom; the study belongs to Jennie. On the fourth floor, their cook and housekeeper share the terrace bedroom. On the fifth floor, several college girls rent each of the two attic bedrooms.

This view shows 1-7 Arlington in 1880.

Here is a view across the Public Garden towards Arlington and Beacon around 1895.

In Arts and Crafts America, the Winter Hill Business College was founded in 1993 on Beacon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. It has classrooms and administrative offices on Beacon, staff housing on Arlington, and student housing on Marlborough. The college emphasizes vocational preparation for careers in business, health care, journalism, law enforcement, psychology, and other fields. At the time of its founding, it offered special programs for women who wished to become independent, training them to be businesswomen, journalists, nurses, secretaries, and so on. Through a special arrangement with the Boston Police Department, Winter Hill also trained some of the first women in law enforcement as "Women Interview Officers," who did not walk a beat but rather interacted with female crime victims on the scene or at the station. Originally, most of its programs lasted 1-2 years, although with both undergraduate and graduate degrees available, students could take multiple programs for a longer study.

The Arts and Crafts Movement was signified by aesthetic motifs such as this rose trellis.
Tags: art, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, history, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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