An Amish folktale told through the voice of a stick puppet
...When a lesbian folktale can be told through an author's imagination of a homemade straw, cloth, and stick puppet, it can remind us that there is a different way ... a different way other than tradition and as women, we have a choice. I've used the broom and the quilt in this tale to demonstrate those choices.
...The only caveat, or warning that comes from this tale is that women need to have a back-up plan stashed down the road. Key-hole peeping creates fascination, fascination creates preparedness, preparedness, survival which translates into finding a spare acre to grow choices.
...Eager to sweep the women with a new tale, Stone Creek Woman put the finishing touches on the main character, an animated scarecrow she named Spirulina, a 20th century Amish woman. She stuffed her with broomcorn, the plants Stone Creek Woman makes her brooms from. From a seed catalog, she ordered the seeds in hopes of instructing women how to grow themselves into self-supporting stalks, and sweep female sexuality out of the closet and negativity out from under the rug.
...The power of Scarecrow, the name of this tale, is harnessed by jute and plumwood twigs, a scarecrow marionette Stone Creek Woman animates by pulling the burlap twine.
...Spirulina's story is inspired from an Amish woman who was shunned from her community by the Amish male elders when she broke tradition by making brooms instead of quilts, and was discovered in the broom closet coveting a woman, the wife of Jacob, who was also shunned for her part in committing a carnal sin with an unmarried woman.
...Stone Creek Woman sewed Spirulina's homespun clothing from gingham and chambray. The apron-front floor-length dress and matching bonnet resemble traditional Amish style of dress.
...Her "groundwork" has grown to comprise a whole system planted to relieve women's emotional pressure. It dawned on her one day when she was planting the broomcorn seeds what she truly wanted to do was somehow open women up to sweep sexuality out of the closet.
...Brooms have such a celestial connotation. Depending on which storybook you are reading from, witches rode them, probably for a reason, straddled the phallic replacements without nary a mention of a G-rated pleasure stick, the R-rated flying orgasm, or any number of X-rated anatomical expressions.
...And so, with Spirulina holding one of Stone Creek Woman's homemade brooms, sitting on a straw bale in the pumpkin, gourd, and broomcorn patch, the story begins.
...Contact is dear to women whose roots go deep, and whose lives grow intertwined like broomcorn straw. Amish women are gentle to their homespun core and honest to the balls of their feet. If she doesn't do what is expected of her, she will be shunned, a cruel practice where no one from the Amish community may acknowledge or speak to her. "If she denies her curiosity, will she ever be happy?" Stone Creek Woman launched, by pulling Spirulina's life twine to raise her neck in a shrug.
...Spirulina hasn't lost sight of things. She keeps a mindful distance. She peeps through the broom closet keyhole in the community cellar. "How can I trust something that's just a feeling?" she silently asks.
...She thinks it perfectly natural to be watching Rebecca in a sensual way. Oh. but what would Jacob say to having his wife have Spirulina! It is in season to bestow grace. The acorns have fallen from the trees, but not all of them are destined to become oaks just like Rebecca is not destined to become a man's wife, like her mother, and her mother before that.
...She quietly celebrates by dancing with the broom she has finished, watching from the closet vent as Jacob, Cyrus, and Micah ride off in the wagon across the covered wooden bridge.
...Rebecca is filling the walnut buckets and pickle crocks from the fall harvest. The smoothly-sanded broom handle twitches between Spirulina's thighs, and she thinks, "I am no more lonely than the plowed-under fall fields, but I have spent too much time being pushed into tradition. All is right, here and now, neither time nor season can change my feelings toward the broom. Yes, the quilt is good, but the broom is my choice."
...And so, the quilt spread warm tradition, and the broom swept Spirulina out of the closet into the arms of Rebecca.
...Rebecca's mind is calm, shy, and open. "Jacob is in the field," Spirulina said, as she wiped the dew off the pumpkin Rebecca carted to the cellar. "I will not find my way home if I do not find a way with you!" Spirulina whispered.
..."Do you know what you ask? Do you know what we risk?" Rebecca asked.
..."Yes a kiss of reverence, a kiss of desire that you do not know from Jacob. The risk is no more than Jacob has already threatened by burning my broomcorn crop. Without my brooms, I may as well be shunned. But you have a life here with Jacob and the quilts, and the other wives," Spirulina answered.
..."When I lie down with Jacob, I do not feel the ripeness of the melons, only the dead seed of his pleasure," Rebecca confessed.
...Spirulina adjusted her breath to match Rebecca's, which is shallow and quick with anxiety. "The brooms shall be our salvation, the deliverance from the power and penalty of what they say is sin," Spirulina prayed outloud, as they walked hand in hand to the candllelit broom closet.
...A moment so rare is this to see the bonnets lying on the wooden floor planks, the dresses bedded in the broomcorn manger, and the smiling brooms hung against tradition on the broom wall inside the closet.
...Hours had passed. The candle had burned out many reverent kisses before. Jacob was without supper. He gathered Cyrus and Micah to find Rebecca. The brass lantern Jacob carried lit the way to the community cellar where he discovered the cart still loaded with the pumpkins. It is the combination of broomcorn straw and candle wax that gives him a whiff of anger.
...The wife of Jacob lay naked in the arms of Spirulina in the broomcorn straw heap. For the first time, Rebecca feels the ripeness of the melons in the Amish community in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County.
...For not adhering to the traditions of the Old Order Amish faith, Spirulina and Rebecca were shunned from the community.
...Along with their "family" dresses and bonnets, the male elders burned the broomcorn patch, sending Spirulina and Rebecca off into the darkness without cover or dignity.
...There is a question of how they are going to cover themselves. "With the burlap sacks I have stashed down the road with broomcorn seeds," Spirulina answered.
...There is a question of where they are headed. "To find a spare acre to plant a few rows of broomcorn seeds," Spirulina answered. "We will find our way home, because we have found a way with each other."
Copyright 2006 Sage Sweetwater, firebrand lesbian novelist
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|Reviewed by J A
|That Spirulina thinks
of everything, she's quite
a gal to have around ;).
Sage U stir and make the