she seeks refuge in pastoral,
promises of a safer passage
where planes still fly over–
but this time, the target doesn’t
include her. still there’s no
solace, not for a woman with
a sweetheart left behind in secret.
she pines in whipcord breeches,
hands blistered from a harvest
pulled by the root for winter, these
women strong, not as bitter as the
cold– yet. they’re suck in the muck
that creeps over sturdy brown shoes
onto woolen socks– stuck.
when tea is called, tools thunk in
fields and even the horses snort their
relief in clouds of wet vapor. her eyes
still fly to the sky overhead, looking–
always seeking a sign, always knowing
it won’t be there this time.
spoons clanked, sugar lumps dumped–
one? two? hands cupped around nothing
are no pinkies crooked, no watercress or
sponge. teeth pressed to biscuits, not too
much sugar, sweetness is rationed now.
land army ladies chatter about anything,
arrived strangers, now fast friends–
hard work binding more than crops together.
she has nothing to say, until they demand,
friendly fire, to know. no woman is a blank
page, but this story isn’t one they’ll want
to hear– is there a man?
there is someone, her tentative voice breathes
over warm brown liquid until it ripples, this
pronoun game is hard. yes, her someone is serving,
a pilot– a pilot! ravishing RAF,
indeed this is true, they demand a name. do you
miss him terribly? do you write to him daily?
she writes and misses just like the others,
for just a moment wonders, if it’s safe–
here at pastoral rest, with women doing work
they’d never thought they’d do, in men’s breeches
heave hoeing. their wide questioning eyes and pale
lips wait in anticipation, and she remembers quick,
that she is unnatural and secret for a reason,
her sweetheart Amy, turned George.
Juliette van der Molen is a feminist writer and poet living in the Greater NYC area. She is a contributing editor for Mookychick Magazine. Her books include: Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse Collection (Moonchild Magazine, August 2018), Mother, May I? (Animal Heart Press, May 2019) and Anatomy of A Dress (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2019). Twitter via @j_vandermolen. Instagram via juliette.writes. Website: www.JulietteWrites.com