Women Wait in English Literature

Whether we are waiting for our man to return home from war, or waiting to be proposed to in marriage, waiting to receive equal remuneration for equal efforts, or waiting for just plain old-fashioned respect, throughout the Western Canon, women wait, and wait well.

In literature, waiting is a thoroughly feminine pre-occupation.  We don’t read about men standing by the window, hand on pane as the rain falls down the sill, watching the street for his love to come home. Men don’t wait. Men charge ahead. Men ride off into sunsets. Men rise to challenges.

So, to mix things up a bit, I wrote a poem. About a man that lives in the Southern Highlands of NSW. He waits. Waits his whole life for the woman he loves, who never noticed him in the end.

When I finished this piece, I didn’t find his waiting effeminate. I found it wholly masculine. But maybe that’s just me. Either way, it’s a lesson as a writer, to tackle a common theme from a different angle, which often yields unexpected results.

Till next time,

WordSmith Jo

 

The Highlands Way Cafe

Clickety clatter, splash ‘n batter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I’ll wait for you, by old belly rose.
Rickety rattler, brews ‘n splatter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I waited for you, till evening’s close.

Raised in the south, near Mittagong’s fray
Your sun-speckled shine and short refrain
Dreamt of black-heeled style and tinted frames.
‘One day, one day, I’ll skip out this small town,
I’ll marry a suit with cashmere lines
And trade buckskin boots for silver cuffs’.

Shy of nineteen, I kept my voice steady
Your breath is soft, yet your words fall hard
My love since sixth grade in Miss Faye’s class,
Trading cards under Gib Gate’s Wattle.
I always thought we’d see our lives through
Behind vineyard’s gate at Crescent’s pass.

You traded walks along Box Vale’s Track
For concrete treads and dark tinted glass
The Blueberry Ash no more a treat.
Just sapphires blue and cloaked valets
Fantasy drunk on tower skylines
Your future’s past the Old Hume Highway.

Our Sunday last, we sipped Earl Grey
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
Near the feet of old rose’s fire.
No heat stopped my heart turn to winter
At the Highland’s Way Cafe, my love
You said we would meet again, someday.

Clickety clatter, splash ‘n batter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I’ll wait for you, by old belly rose.
Rickety rattler, brews ‘n splatter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I waited for you, till evening’s close.

Remember Mrs Main Street Chatter?
She said you married a city bloke
Clever with stocks, Nellie Melba kind.
You had traded black teas for lattes
And wore Manolos with gold thread ties
And muted freckles with Chanel shine.

The Secretary on Station Street
Said you are now living penthouse dreams
Walking on silk spun from Isfahan.
Your lashes charcoaled, and accent combed
Feline hats at races, Champagne light
Next stop to Tokyo, fashion’s height.

At Howard’s Lane the gardener there
Said you’ve had a darling baby girl
Behind my back, my unsteady hand
Held quick and tight the cellar door frame
But your joy is mine, and will remain
My love for you will forever stand.

Think! Secret space by Nattai River
Eyes shut you would lift your naked face
And beautify the sun. I recall
The way you stared at Forty Foot Falls
In wonder, as we drank from her spine
And dried atop the sunny stone arch.

Clickety clatter, splash ‘n batter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I’ll wait for you, by old belly rose.
Rickety rattler, brews ‘n splatter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I waited for you, till evening’s close.

And the years went by, colliding time
News of you no longer passes way
I tilled my soil, pressed grapes into wine
Leaves renew, summer willows fading
As the world around us keeps swirling
Life moves on, unchanged in southern winds.

My hands, now rivets of raised blue lines
Crocheted skin hold tired eyes true
And my hope an endless arroyo.
As the old Fitz Roy Iron Works hold
A space in the present through its past
Your distance keeps me closer to you.

Another Tulip oasis late
Springs, and November Waratah brings
Florid visions, visions of you, you.
The grapes ripen longer on the vines
In the South, so too, flavour of you
So too, this love wanting, wanting, waits.

Then one Sunday, Christmas carnival
At the Highland Way Cafe, my love
The doorway you pass, as if you knew
I was at our old table for two.
Your eyes met mine, with no memory
Or want, at the Highland Way Cafe.

Clickety clatter, splash ‘n batter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I’ll wait for you, by old belly rose.
Rickety rattler, brews ‘n splatter
At the Highlands Way Cafe, my love
I waited for you, till evening’s close.

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