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My newest book, Shutters:Voices:Wind, has just been released by ELJ Publications. It's a series of inter-linked stories in the voices of women around the planet. Here is one of the monologues:
NANSI BOILS WATER
Nobody cares when you are old; you are invisible. A woman, all her life, she is worth something. Like good cattle or land, she is valuable; she produces. I was a good producer. I had six living children out of the nine I bore; all six grew to have children of their own except for one of my daughters. She got to go to school. Six grades, and she has no husband or children; she teaches; she has some small money of her own. But she has no land or husband and no children. I think she is poor, but she tells me she is rich in the mind. She tells me she will help our country become a better, safer one. I have trouble understanding this. My grandchildren are my riches. I am useful as an old woman can be. I help with the babies’ births; I help with the child rearing and the cooking. I know the land; I understand the animals. My daughters and even my daughters-in-law will ask me questions. This is good. This is as it should be. But our country is troubled, and many bad things have come to pass as the world changes and the gods lose their faith in humans. There are many deaths; none of my daughters’ husbands are alive. None of my sons is living. Murdered. All have disappeared. We are a house of women now. Except for my grandsons. One of the boys is becoming like his father was: a talker, a leader. He seethes with anger at what happens around us. But he is a boy, still, at least for a little while. I have watched as people have been taken away. What can a woman do? What can an old woman do? They came last week looking for my grandson, the one who will be a man soon. I call him Little Bean. The men banged on my door. They banged and banged. I called through the window, “What do you want? No one but women live here.” They said they wanted the boy. I said, “Go away. Little Bean is not here. Go away.” They yelled and banged. They said they have guns and I must open up. My daughters and daughters-in law were in the back room hiding the children. Little Bean was there, too, in his mother’s and aunts arms, as he should be. I had been boiling water. I took a pot and dipped it into the big pot and stood at the door. I said to them as loud as I could, “I have a pot of boiling water. If you come in my house, the first of you will get it in the face.” There was silence. My arms ached. I am old. I am so old, but I know I would have hit the first man who came in my home, but after a few minutes, the silence wasn’t broken. I went to the window and peeked out. They had gone. They had gone. My Little Bean was safe. I boil water every night now. It is something an old woman can do. Little Bean goes out. I can not go with him. I do not want him to go, but he goes, as men must. But I will boil water as long as I can.