I am weighty enough
to buffet a heavy cloud
of unwritten words
gathered around her head.
Her mouth itches with unspoken
secrets – I am a token,
an inky symbol brushed
onto my bamboo ribs.
She folds me into myself,
from half moon to crescent,
from foot to golden lotus,
a message to be sent.

Kim M. Russell, 2018

Image result for Laotong fan and golden lotus feet
Image found on Goodreads

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Roads April Six: Speaking in the Voice of Another

Today, Sherry has taken us back to feudal times in China, when girls and women, whose feet were usually bound, were oppressed. She tells us about a secret language of female writing, called nu shu, in which a young girl was matched with a lifelong best friend, or soul sister, called her laotang, with whom she communicated by letter. Sometimes their messages were inscribed on fans, which were passed back and forth. It was not until the 1960s that this secret language of women drew the interest of the authorities and scholars.

Our exercise is write a poem in the voice of another. I wrote from the point of view of the fan.

33 thoughts on “Fan

  1. How brilliant to write in the voice of the fan! The folding in on itself, like the foot itself, is especially effective. I love the line about the fan swirling in front of the mouth itching with unspoken secrets. Wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your poem is so well done. I especially like your reference to “the Golden Lotus” which speaks to the binding of women’s feet in China. And the lines ” I am a token
    an inky symbol brushed
    onto my bamboo ribs. “

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very rich and powerful poem Kim. It is interesting to note that only the upperclass women had their feet broken, bound, broken, re-bound, again and again to achieve that golden lotus. My heart aches at such barbarism. But of course, it was normal until it was finally outlawed. The pain of walking with these feet…not that the wealthier women did that much walking. but it made them more “attractive” for marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed the narrative voice Kim – well done and creative to consider this story from the fan’s point of view. And from the very opening until the last few lines – just so rich, layered and it shares a large but small part of the story – a secret revealed and yet still concealed – it’s definitely a wonderful piece for the fascinating prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. seems to be fascinating – and I’m thinking it’s probably a 50/50 split – for like or not – but I’d say, trust your instincts and enjoy! so things are best appreciated over a cup of slow hot tea and an ease in to it just for the pleasure (even as the message is hard to swallow)

        Liked by 1 person

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