For Syble

published on Oct 11, 2021

My grandmother was a pious woman A quiet woman A compliant woman She read her Bible every night Tidied up the kitchen Fed the men and ate when they were done Then tidied up again

My grandmother was a pious woman
A quiet woman
A compliant woman

She read her Bible every night
Tidied up the kitchen
Fed the men and ate when they were done
Then tidied up again

When she was dying
Looking at her hands, folded neatly in her lap
"Are those my hands?" she worried. "How ugly they are."

"Grandma," I said. "Those hands are beautiful.
Those hands worked hard.
Those hands loved well."
"Oh," she said. "They did? Oh, that's good."

Everyone thinks of the witches they burned
The witches they hanged
The women they branded
The women they drowned

Everyone talks of the wild women
The noncompliant women
The ones who couldn't wouldn't hide
The ones who died

But what about the ones who lived?
The ones who watched their sisters swing
The ones who ducked their heads and

The ones who taught their daughters
Their sisters
The wives they would have had if they could have had them
The ones who knew how to survive

The ones who carried the pain
Who hid it well
The ones everyone called compliant

My grandmother taught her daughter how
To sew
To cook
To be polite in high society
To duck her head and read her Book

My grandmother was one of those who saw
Who hoped
Who taught her daughter to comply
Who asked her to comply
Who hoped she would comply

My grandmother choked on her own grief when her daughter could not comply
Not because she wanted her to comply
But because she saw
What happens when you don't comply

She carried it in her throat
The ancestral wound
The ancient repetitious memory
Of women swinging
Then swinging

Grandma was a good woman
The best I ever knew
She was the one
Who loved me
Really loved me

Not: I love you when you comply
Not: I love you if
Not: I love the part of you that I have molded in my image

She simply
In particular
Without bounds

I needed that love
I needed that time I fell asleep with my head on her chest while she supported it in her arms, even though her arms almost gave out with the weight of it
I needed that time she dropped a dollar on the path without telling me so I could find it and think that I had found something she had missed
I needed that time she made me a crown out of tinsel so I could wear it to school every day for a year until the school told me crowns were no longer allowed at school
I needed it
I needed it
I needed it

I needed her

Her love saved me

Everyone talks about the witches who burned
But what about the witches who lived?
The ones who put their heads down and complied
But never
Sold their souls

The ones who lived so that we could live

The ones who stayed
Who played
Who waited
Who watched, powerless, as they
Accused us
Convicted us
Ostracized us
Who watched, who grieved
Who never
Gave up hope

Who fed us through the bars of our cages so we could live too
Who came at night and cut the ties that bound us
Who never
Stopped loving us

What about the ones who lived
So that I could live
So that we could really live
So that we could be here
Who bided the time
Who held the line
Who tended the fire
Who held the fire

For us

So that we can rise
So that we can shine
So that we can do what our sisters burned for
So that we can honor their sacrifice
So that we can be the voice that choked in their throats every time one of their sisters hanged

My grandmother wove threads of nothing
Of oppression
Into golden threads of light
My grandmother carried wounds so great she had to hide them from herself to survive
My grandmother turned those wounds into love

She came to me after she died
From the other side
She said: I love you
I love you
I love you

I said: But am I doing it wrong? I'm not like you at all
I'm loud
I'm brash
And holy hells I'm vulgar

She said: No
My love
I did not conspire to bring you here
To be me
I brought you here
To be you
You are doing it right
You are doing it so right
You are doing what I never could
What I never thought I should
Do it more
Do it loud
Do it big
Do it proud

I said: Are you sure? I'm not dishonoring you?

She laughed

She said: Do you want to honor me?

I said yes

She said: Then live
Really live

My grandmother was a pious woman
A quiet woman
A compliant woman

TAGS: GrandmaWitches
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Fen Druadìn

Fen Druadìn (they/them) is anamchara, storyteller, dragon, student of trees, and a breaker of generational curses.

Fen's mission here is to love and remember themself completely, connect deeply with the world, and help others do the same for themselves.

Fen connects deeply with the universe through their relationship with a sacred land in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and shares messages here and elsewhere. When not in the woods, they can be found on Facebook and Patreon.

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