Author and Doppelgänger in Training
There's something about being trapped indoors in the bleak midwinter that makes me imagine myself as a nineteenth century authoress, chilblains tingling and blancmange quivering on a plate by my elbow.
I know this is a fantasy cobbled together from a lot more than Austen's works. It's equal parts Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights.
Come to think of it, better throw in Louisa May Alcott, Kate Chopin, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Heck, English winters aren't even that cold.
Nevertheless, I'm tucked into a parsonage, manse, or cottage, hands warmed by my fingerless lace gloves. I have plans to wander the moors later, but for now I'm sharpening my quill.
The important part, the one that gets me through the backside of winter in Upstate New York, is that last part. In their tradition, I'm getting ready to write myself a bridge to better days.
If I Saw Jane Austen
If I saw you on the subway,
waiting in line at the grocery store,
or watching your friend’s drink as
she spins drunkenly around the dance floor—
I would recognize you.
If I saw Jane Austen,
I like to think that I would recognize you.
I would see in your face the consideration
of what it takes to bring in five thousand pounds a year.
The skill necessary to stalk beasts through the wasteland
required of five useless females,
the middle daughter.
The bite reserved in a hidden pocket you sewed yourself because
society did not trust you enough to provide one.
How right they were.
We would sit in that space,
A family of two, a million strong.
We would know each other’s place.