The Handmaiden’s Tale: Reading Response

The Handmaiden's TaleMargaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale is a text which opens a number of discourses through a queer theory lens. Topics of discussion include various forms of oppression as well as gender performances and performative language. I would like to initially state that the novel is set in a dystopian society, allowing the reader to critique Atwood’s work more freely. Her ability to combine a number of authentic instances of oppression in one setting allows for a “worst case scenario” for the reader to deconstruct. This speculative fiction is a reminder that the oppression and static roles of characters are, in fact, constructions. In this way, she constructs a fictitious world from a real society with real constructions.
One example of these realistic constructions is the role of the Aunts. While they are women themselves, they promote the isolation of the handmaidens in the community. They hold power over the handmaidens, and encourage them to accept their limiting roles. Aunt Lydia tells Offred, the narrator, “There is more than one kind of freedom…Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it” (Atwood, 24). This statement suggests the handmaidens are lucky in their situations, because they are “safe” from societal dangers. In a way, this is true. The handmaidens are protected in their isolation, but this only applies if they follow certain constructions. For example, if a handmaiden follows her schedule and uses “proper” orthodox language, she will be safe. On the other hand, if she were to speak out against the structure of her day (as Moira did), then she will most likely be punished through exile or death. Aunt Lydia recognizes the limitations of her women, but rather than speaking out against those limitations as a woman of power, she rationalizes the constructions: “You are a transitional generation…It is hardest for you. We know the sacrifices you are being expected to make…For the ones who come after you, it will be easier. They will accept their duties with willing hearts” (117). In this moment, Aunt Lydia is not only rationalising the oppression, but normalizing it. Offred notices her superior’s language choice. Rather than saying “Because they will have no memory of any other way” she says “They won’t want things they can’t have” (117). By using Offred and Aunt Lydia’s phrasing against each other, Atwood exposes the power of language in its ability to construct roles in society.
Offred seems to hint at this power earlier in the novel, reflecting on her required uniform as a handmaiden: “Some people call them habits, a good word for them. Habits are hard to break” (24). In the same way that it is habitual (or required) for one to wear certain clothing, it is habitual (or seemingly required) for one to follow gender constructions. On page 37, Offred muses on the power and gendering of words:

Lay is always passive. Even men used to say, I’d like to get laid. Though sometimes they said, I’d like to lay her. All this is pure speculation. I don’t really know what men used to say. I only Had their words for it

I lie then, inside the room…and step sideways out of my own time.

This quotation is very complex. Offred knows there are implications of using lay as opposed to lie- while lay implies submission, a more feminine construct, lie implies dominance, a more masculine construct. There are other examples of gendered language in our society, such as referring to a group of people as “guys” rather than “girls.” Somehow the second label promotes an air of subordinance, while the first is understood as “neutral.” Despite these very real language constructions, Offred manages to queer them, applying the feminine “lay” to men and the masculine “lie” to herself. This monologue is also troubling, because even though she is attempting to show some assertion, she is also working within a very limited role and dismisses her powerful statement on language by saying “this is pure speculation. I don’t really know what men used to say.” Queer theory would take issue with this dismissal, claiming that Offred is still performing as a dismissive character; therefore reinforcing the binary between men and women.
This reinforcement is also expressed through the handmaidens’ objectification of each other, referring to themselves as interchangeable shapes as well as competing with each other for attention through pregnancy. There are far too many examples of oppression that are completely possible in our society to go into detail with this short reflection. This is due to the novel’s construction as a dystopian piece. Again, Atwood’s work is an example of the “worst case scenario,” giving the reader a type of warning as to what constructions can ultimately do to a society. The work should function to motivate discussion of binaries and the dangers of relying on them. I am personally drawn to this genre of literature because although reading the texts make me moderately paranoid, they also allow me to examine my own performances as they relate to social construction.

Game of Thrones: “Reading” Response

Daenarys Targaryen

 

 

 

 

Queer Analysis of Daenarys Targaryen

When first introduced to Daenarys Targaryen, I was certain that she would be one of the characters I would be most invested in. what I was uncertain of what why she held my interest. Her brother seems to hold all the power over her, as demonstrated by the strategic marriage to Khal Drogo. In episode 1 of season 1. Daenarys is very nearly silent. We take misjudge her for a submissive girl rather than a woman who could further the power of her family. we are not exposed to her needs or wants; therefore we can assume she lacks agency.
However, at the close of this first scene, Daenarys walks unflinchingly into a scalding bath unharmed. Not only is this strange and terrifying to her servants, the audience is disturbed as well. We can take this scene in two ways. On one hand, Daenarys is an empty young girl without agency so much so that she no longer feels pain. Conversely, she may be stronger than the characters that have born overshadowing her. Based on her later actions as Khalissi, I would argue for the latter.
Daenarys becomes powerful due to her marriage to Khal Drogo, but remains so because she is a steadfast queen. In “Gender and Sexuality in Game of Thrones,” the author suggests that Daenarys “has her own unfaltering values and plans, and is determined to achieve them, with or without help, and refuses to use her sexuality or marriage as a way to succeed.” This statement is a little generous, I think. Daenarys gains and enacts her power through her crown. However it is important to notice that she claims her power forcefully as a queen rather than acting as the king’s accessory. She is originally utilized as a pawn for her brother’s intentional rise to power, but then quickly finds power in her position to transform from silent to conclusive.
Daenarys recognizes how the people of her kingdom should be treated, particularly women. This becomes apparent during her discussion with her servant about sex and her marriage to the Khal. The servant girl is an underrated character in this respect, because even though she is teaching Daenarys how to make her husband happy, she is also showing her how to find power within herself. I believe Daenarys originally knows how people should be treated, but her relationship with the servant girl seemed to have brought the queen’s self worth back into life.
The hot bath and servant conversation are scenes which demonstrate how Daenarys has both instinctual and learned strength. She uses passive femininity to be active. She soon develops a confident voice to give commands to her subjects and against her brother’s intentions. I don’t believe her rationalization for her power, in that it derives from her unborn son, especially when she says, “I have never been nothing.”
Daenarys’ queerness us a blurring of women in power. She loves and respects her powerful husband, but does not rely on him completely. Furthermore, she breaks tradition by objecting to some of his practices (i.e. rape as reward for soldiers). There are still questions about Daenarys that should be examined:

Remaining Questions:

Daenarys is unusually strong. Do you think she is simply a product of the “escapist” writing mentioned in article 3? The fantasy makes everything possible, so she can be powerful, because she is so unusual, is she unbelievable? Writers must create a world in a manner that their readers will believe it.

What if her child survived and was born a girl? How would the power structure be affected?

The Color Purple: Reading Response

Questions be running back and forth through my mind. Feel like snakes. I pray strength, bite the insides of my jaw.

The Color Purple
Alice Walker

The Color PurpleIn The Color Purple the silencing of women is critiqued highly. This is an appropriate fixation due to Celie’s race and gender in relation to her passivity. As many critics recognize, the protagonist is silenced by her friends and family alike. What is interesting is that not only do both men and women silence her, she silences herself. She has been conditioned by her step-father from age fourteen to refrain from questioning the actions of others and focus on questioning herself. She is inhibited regarding her speech and actions through victim-blaming. Alfonso sexually and mentally abuses Celie with this warning: “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy” (11). From this point on she lacks personal conviction, as most young people would after the same situation. However, the misplaced blame is so exaggerated that Celie’s questions cause her to feel devilish and weak, which leads to a struggle with her sexuality.

The dismissal of Celie’s intelligence and overall humanity causes her to continue silencing herself. Even though she is unhappy she knows how to live in an abusive environment. She knows how to survive. Celie is silent for an entire spring when Mr.____ takes his time in deciding whether or not he wants to take her as his “wife.” From the context, it seems the two characters don’t speak to each other at all during this time, so Celie has not actively objected to the exchange. In this silence, she remains weak. Others realize Celie’s silence and avoid dealing with situations as she does. Mr. ____’s sister, Kate, remarks “You’ve got to fight them Celie, I can’t do it for you” You’ve got to fight them for yourself” (21). Although Kate barely knows Celie, she has witnessed her weaknesses and calls her on them. Celie is afraid to leave after her experience with losing Nettie. Even Shug Avery, her future lover tells Celie that “she ain’t got no good sense” (42).

On her wedding day, Celie is chased around the house and brutally hit by her husband’s children. Despite the blood and frustrating persistence to be a good mother. She doesn’t cry and attempts to find strength in her silence. This effort is troubling not only because young children have already learned that physical abuse is acceptable, but because her forced stoicism is her only strength. Imagine if she would have cried. Would Mr. ____ have beaten her or thrown her out because she couldn’t care for his children after a single day?

This small strength is not as strange to me as Celie’s ability to give wonderful advice and protection to other women while remaining submissive for most of her life. She immediately recognizes that Nettie does not deserve to be taken away by Mr. _____ because she is a smart young girl. However, she is confused by Sophia’s bold behavior so much that she encourages Harpo to beat her. In Celie’s mind the problems that Harpo has are very simple. A woman in insubordinate, so you beat her. At the same time, Celie marvels at Sophia’s boldness. She says she’s jealous of Sophia, but the problem is deeper at this moment in Celie’s life: This woman is too independent and the balance is off. No one knows how to deal with her. I don’t think she starts to understand Sophia’s character until she meets Shug Avery. She notices a difference between a man’s love and necessity for a woman. She realizes that they don’t have to come from the same place, and more importantly, it is possible for a man to love a woman at all.

 

Because Celie has never had the opportunity to become attracted to a man, she begins to consider women at a relatively early age:

Dear God,
He beat me today cause he say I winked at a boy in church. I may have got somethin in my eye but I didn’t wink. I don’t even look at mens. That’s the truth. I look at women, tho, cause I’m not scared of them.

 

Celie doesn’t admit to (or realize) the possibility of a romantic relationship with women until her experience with Shug Avery, but she definitely trusts them exclusively from her teenage years on. Her father’s abuse and lack of conviction would account for confusion with sexuality. There is certainly no form of sexual education during this time, even if Celie remained in school long enough to receive it, and there was no opportunity for a healthy introduction to what sex is until Shug abruptly asks her about her sex life with Mr. _____. This scene is jarringly playful due to Shug’s initial laughter and the schoolgirl-eque examination of Celie’s genitalia. Because sexual intercourse is a painful and involuntary experience for Celie, she never considered the possibility that it could be enjoyable for a woman. It is disturbing that for at least 20 years of her life, this woman did not question the act of sex. How did she not even mentally ponder the fact that something so searingly painful for her was the source pleasure for multiple men in her life? The silencing is so deep that critical thinking barely scrapes through Celie mentally, let alone verbally.

Remaining Questions:

Consider this quotation: “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power” (Oscar Wilde).

If this is true (which I think it is) does Celie know this? What would she think about this quote if she were to hear it?

What do you think about Harpo? His mother was killed by a “boyfriend,” and a scandal broke out after her death. He doesn’t initially beat Sophia and only does after Celie suggests it. Did he think the violence was okay because another woman encouraged it? His character is puzzling…

Celie really respects Sophia and Shug. She recognizes their strength and knows they have both suffered some of the same things she has. Why does she either encourage violence against them (Sophia) or submit to them (Shug)? She doesn’t seem to be able to adopt the strengths that she admires.

The Woman Warrior: Reading Response

Woman Warrior The Woman Warrior presents some troubling issues with images of women, Chinese, and Chinese-American culture. Instead of presenting a narrative that attempts to queer the expectations of these cultures, I would agree with the articles in that Kingston seems to continue to follow stereotypes. For example, the idea that a woman became a successful warrior by dressing as a man is not a new concept. We have seen the same patterns in women authors and sports figures as well. What is troubling is that not only must the woman dress as a man to be a warrior, she must then come home unmasked and then fulfill the traditionally female role as if her time in battle never happened. She does not fit within the constructs of the “traditional” Chinese woman, but she also doesn’t use this difference to promote significant change. Furthermore, this character is at odds with the “no-name woman,” a character who is also outside the confines of traditional womanhood. Again, this woman is not threatening to the system because she presents no challenge to the patriarchy. However, unlike the woman warrior, she is condemned for her difference. As Yuan Shu states, “In pairing these two stories of women in terms of success and failure, Kingston sets up a problematic pattern in her work which never quite questions the implication of patriarchal discourses or discusses sexism and racism as both interesting and equally oppressive of Chinese-American women in the American context” (213). Speaking as a white American, I agree with this conclusion, the fate of these two characters did not necessarily surprise me with what I think I know about Chinese culture. In other words, I was expecting to read a new truth about these women but ended up being disappointed in them as I was with Sonja in The Round House.
An interesting point of Kingston’s writing is the origins of her “no-name woman.” While reading Warrior I was initially reminded of Hester Prynne because of the exile she felt for being in opposition with the expectations of women. In this way, Kingston manages to temporarily prove that some issues transcend specific races and apply to all women at one time or another. She may be contributing to a stereotype about Chinese Women in that these women are expected to be quiet, chaste, and private but she is also calling attention to the similarities of these expectations to those of the Puritan era. I don’t know if this creates more problems for Chinese-American women or less because of the gap in time. It could be said that Kingston is making a statement about the progression of both civilizations. Which culture is more civilized? Who determines this? How much behavior is truly cultural and what has been perpetuated based on the work of those in the dominant culture (white males)? These questions relate to The Round House, or any other literature concerning traditionally marginalized cultures.

The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse and Mix-ups, Messes, Confinements, and Double Dealings: Reading Response

Report

Louise Erdrich thrives on queer theory, constantly tempting the borders of gender expression.  The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse impressively confused me in terms of gender, specifically in regard to Agnes/Father Damien.  My realization that Agnes and Father Damien were the same person came embarrassingly late in the novel. More accurately, I wasn’t sure on the details of Father Damien. Thankfully, some of my assumptions were clarified by Mix-ups, Messes, Confinements, and Double Dealings, by Jeffry Iovonnone. For example, I was reassured in my assumption that Agnes took on a former holy man’s identity.  I find the title of Iovonnone’s essay amusing and reassuring, because the multiple identities that Agnes/Damien assume reminded me instantly of a Shakespearean character. There are many reasons why the characters in Shakespeare assume alternative identities, but they all boil down to power.

Perhaps, in a more subtle way, Erdrich is hinting at the role gender has in relationship to power. The protagonist in Little No Horse is troubled by an overwhelming identity crisis that begins with her queer attraction to the music of Chopin. When she is not playing his music, she is lost; even heartbroken At this time, she is Sister Cecilia (patron saint of music) but she developed an “unsaintly” relationship with Chopin, “Such was her innocence that she didn’t know she was experiencing a sexual climax, but believed rather that what she felt was the natural outcome of this particular nocturne played to the utmost of her skills” (Erdrich, 28). That Iovonnone detects jab at heteronormativity here is reassuring as well. Not only will this character prove to be atypical in gender, but in sexuality as well. Agnes/Damien/Cecilia develops a connection to music the way other characters develop connections to each other. In this scenario, however, Cecilia is not in power. She is under the command of the Mother Superior, and unique her connection to music is therefore restricted.

After the scene on page 41, where Agnes is shot by “The Actor,” I was quite flustered. My reaction was “What the hell just happened?” and I think that reaction is expected. This seems to begin the second phase in the identity crisis. She is unhappy without her husband, but also has trouble remembering who he is. “Now that she remembered him, the place [farm] was treacherous with the raw ache of memory that returned in unexpected bits, then vanished before she could get the whole of it firmly laid out in her mind” (Erdrich, 51). She is still not in control of herself, whomever that may be. When she takes on Father Damien’s identity, she is still not entirely comfortable. “Tomorrow, she thought, I’ll get rid of this cassock and be Agnes DeWitt again, formerly Sister Cecilia, who has lived enough for two women and two nuns already, let alone a mission priest.” Despite her confusion however, she manages to reach a solution. She commits to the identity of Father Damien as “the true lie…the most sincere lie a person could ever tell” (Erdrich, 72). In this moment, is she being sincere to herself, or simply committing to an identity that will ensure her survival and power? If she had converted herself back to Agnes, could she have held the respect to freely say that answers are not always black and white?

In his discussions with Father Jude, Damien states that he “cherishes” irregular behavior (queerness). He says “I have never seen the truth without crossing my eyes. Life is crazy… it is our job to understand it… [and] anything of a large nature will create problems” (149). This character is well aware of her expectations as a man and woman, and knows when to enact particular gender constructions. As Agnes, she knows that her questions would be limited, but as Damien, he could ask questions with “frankness and ease” (Erdrich, 76). The more I think about Agnes/Damien, the more I am reminded of the power we associate with different identities.  Erdrich continues to illustrate the importance of respecting humanity in all it’s queerness. Whether she confronts race, sexuality, gender, age, ethnicity, religion (etc), she writes to expose any and all combinations of these identities as legitimate choices and occurrences.

Remaining Questions:

The role of Father Damien allowed the protagonist to reflect on gender publicly (or at least with a few people). Would this be possible if he/she chose to resume the role of Agnes/Cecilia?

Considering the following quotations, who can be granted the authority to label another as “queer?”

“Robes or not, I am human” (Erdrich, 76).
“The priest is unusual, but then, who among the zhaaganaashiwug is not strange?” (Erdrich, 78).

 

The Round House and Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide: Reading Response

I have been having some trouble beginning my response to The Round House, due to the blossoming rage I feel after reading theaccompanying article, Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide, by Andrea Smith.  Because I am involved in the Vagina Monologues, I am aware that sexual assault violence are prominent issues.  However, the relation to race as well as gender is much more serious than I anticipated.  Neferti Tadiar admitted that as a rape crisis counselor, she found every Native American survivor she spoke to revealed that they “no longer wanted to be Indian.”  I’m not necessarily surprised by this information.  Rather, I am now more thoroughly convinced that race and gender are related to one’s sense of security and therefore, pride.  Carrying shame about one’s heritage is not specific to the Native American or woman identity.  For example, there is a parallel shame or shyness concerning the LGBTQA+ and other marginalized communities.   To clarify, the marginalized have not placed their exclusion on themselves, therefore they feel shame that premature and unwarranted.  One would not choose to be placed in such categories and they are not proud of their classification,; therefore, it is not unexpected or illogical to want to escape such classification. Native Americans have been exploited, abused, and cast aside as a group who is “less than” in ways that other groups have not.  On page ten of Genocide, Smith explains:

Because Indian bodies are “dirty,” they are considered sexually voilable and “rapeable,” and the rape of bodies that are considered inherently impure or or simply does not count. For instance, prostitutes are almost never believed when they say they have been raped because the dominant society considers the bodies of sex workers undeserving of integrity and voilable at all times., Similarly, the history of mutilation of Indian bodies, both living and dead, makes it clear that Indian people are not entitled to body integrity.

This logic has been integrated into today’s rape culture as well, with degrading rationalizations such as “her clothes were provocative,” “she was asking for it,” “she wanted it” and rape jokes such as “if you have sex with a prostitute without paying her, is it rape or theft?” All in all, there is simply a complete disregard for the body integrity of women who express their sexuality as well as women who fall under subcategories. The extent at which state governments of the United States still turn a blind eye to violence against women is repulsive. In 1982, which is considerably current, our government funded the systematic rape and execution of 177 women and children by the Guatemalan government. I was thinking to myself, “Why hadn’t I heard about this?” but the answer is simple, these women were not white.

In the same year, a rape fantasy video game was produced by Stuart Kasten that bore the slogan “When you score, you score, basically rewarding the player for violating Indian women. The entire concept further promotes sex as a singularly violent act, which is not an accurate depiction of what sex can be.  I do not move to suggest that aggressive sex is immoral or degrading. Rather, I would like to open a discussion about what exactly sex is. While some people may prefer the BDSM type interaction, this is not the only option. As I ponder this subject, I am reminded of the many codes or standards that have been applied to sex. There is a dramatic binary between the romanticized/christianized/heteronormative option and the opposing perceived notions of BDSM/fantasy and violent option. It seems that in our culture, there are instances of either one or the other. For example, Romantic comedies adopt the former while pornography and horror films adopt the latter. In other words, “making love” is respected and viewed in our culture and is completely separated from BDSM, which is inaccurately grouped with violence and rape. While it seems like I’m going off on a tangent, there is indeed a connection to Kasten’s game. Marginalized sexuality such as BDSM has not been promoted blatantly in the popular culture because it has been categorized with fantasy and suppression (which is why the “catharsis versus stimulation” debate is applicable yet again). However, Kasten seems to sneak in this violent invasion of Indian women bodies in the name of fantasy, “the woman is enjoying a sexual act willingly” but “she’s not about to take it lying down.” His promotion is contradictory and seems to glorify non consensual acts. His use of Indian women further perpetuates the stereotype that this race of women lacks body integrity.

This is why in The Round House, I was not surprised by the expected and eventual haphazardness in which Geraldine’s rape was handled. Joe, a young native male, is aware of his family’s marginalized position. He reflects “The problem with most Indian rape cases was that even after there was an indictment the U.S. attorney often declined to take the case to trial for one reason or another. Usually, a raft of bigger cases. My father wanted to make sure that didn’t happen” (Erdrich, 46). Geraldine’s trauma due to her rape speaks not only to the level of violence she experienced but the specific marginalization she felt. As a Native American woman, it is expected that she remain silent. However, the “stable” relationships she held with her family members beforThe Round Housee the attack queer the expectations of the Native American Peoples. The support from her husband was refreshing.

Round House queers ideas about race and gender in terms of Geraldine, Joe, and Linda especially, and there are many examples of this. One of these is Linda’s Story. Very rarely, as Joe points out, is someone adopted into the Native American community. This rare instance allows the reader to process the effects of marginal connotations. Even though Linda is not Native American, she is treated as such because of her difference. She is not the ideal picture of beauty and she was raised as Native American; both of which qualify her as lacking in body integrity. She is represented in a drastically different light than Sonja, who is an attractive and self-sufficient Native American woman. She queers the norm of a “dirty” race and completely owns her sexuality and independence. She says “Whitey needed to be put in his place. He think he owns me…Yeah. Thinks he owns me. But he’ll find out he don’t, huh? Am I right?” (Erdrich, 146). Sonja represents what Native American women could all be if they were able to rise above their perceived cultures (which had been made extremely inaccurate) due to colonization and racial genocide.

The connections between sexual violence, race and sex remains prevalent.  I am thankful for the more recent announcement by the UK government to spend 10 million pounds in efforts against conflict-induced sexual violence. Angelina Jolie addressed the leaders of G8 concerning wartime rape last year, and again this month, declaring “[rape] has nothing to do with sex; everything to do with power” and encouraging that minority communities and international victims are “just like us,” yet are crippled by lack of health resources.  Wartime rape, according to Jolie, “has been taboo for far too long; a crime that thrives on silence and survival.” She declares:

“Rape has been treated as something that simply happens in war. Perpetrators have learned that they can get away with it and victims have been denied justice.  But wartime rape is not inevitable. This violence can be prevented… the international political will has been sorely lacking. I have heard survivors of rape from Bosnia to the DRC say that they feel that the world simply does not care about them.”

In these survivors’ confession alone, wartime rape is proven to be enacted as a social hierarchy based on race and social class.  Therefore, by continuing to allow rape as wartime tactic, entire countries continue to allow the dehumanization of marginalized bodies.

Jolie’s G8 speech, 2013:

Jolie’s Speech at the London Open Summit, 2014:

 

Remaining Questions:

What are some examples of heteronormative sexuality in terms of the argument above? (romanticized/heteronormative versus the other)

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, brings up various issues in race, gender, and sexuality and tends to queer them. This can be very overwhelming for a reader who has little or no experience with these criticisms or theories. Would the novel be more “mainstream” or “marketable” if there was just a strong focus on one? Compare this novel to Gone Girl which deals with many feminist issues but not race.  How popular were these books in relation to each other and other popular novels?

CREATIVE WRITING: Long Live

 

When she accidentally stepped on the executioner’s foot
she gasped and graciously apologized…

Perched on the edge of their rotting stools like pigeons
on the window ledges of their abandoned bakeries,
Les Trecoteuse raveled and unraveled their threadbare threads
in silence.
The usual “who’s who” was a waste as each woman could recognize
the cake batter dripping from her mouth
to the sticky urine lined streets.

The “Austrian Woman” tried to become one of them. She was hard pressed for acceptance.
Still. Still after 23 years, she balanced atop her mocking post
where silk buckle shoes drown in the blood of her severed husband.
Splotches of rust and dust ate away at the intricate designs through the eyelets
where laces should have been.
A revolutionary stripped his former queen of preciousness.
He tore through whatever represented the wealth of the privileged-
boot laces spun in gold,
her ragged Fontange, where a single alouette feather remained
caught between the mousy grey locks
and broken wires that no longer measured two feet high.
Luxuriously, the revolutionary threw them over the scaffolding to join
the King’s navy culottes.