WIP: Saltian, The salve of women meeting
From section 3, Lover, of Saltian
The salve of women meeting
By Alice Shapiro
ate and drank.
We entered into lively chats
laughed and cried
Women in the field
in the depth of
business, business done
profit by embracing wisdom
in a similar realm.
and we glide through silt
and help quash tattered worn-out theories
exhale, stroke the sun.
Spinning, Spinning, and Then Lifting: A Response to Alice Shapiro's "The salve of women meeting"
By KJ Hannah Greenberg
Wise, crone poet, Alice Shapiro, writes in “The salve of women meeting” about we women’s ability to unite to lift ourselves above seemingly crushing problems. Her text shows readers that by applying coordinated effort, we can pull ourselves up to otherwise unimagined levels of self-worth.
Set in her book, Saltian, which is rubriced in keeping with the Seven Ages of Man, as explicated by William Shakespeare, in his play, As You Like It, “The salve of women meeting” describes how the author and her cohorts, allegedly assembled to engage in a career-related ballabile, actually draw closer in their pacifying of each other over their respective partners’ offstage behaviors. That is, upon losing their communication inhibitions, this poem’s daughters neither moan nor scream about their common troubles, but chat about shared solutions. They proffer comfort and support to each other as they glide through all too familiar “silt, slush [and] sediment” and then conclude their congress with a supernatural échappé sauté, which boosts them high enough to reach a celestial body, ie, to “stroke the sun.”
Interestingly, despite the fact that “The salve of women meeting” falls into Saltian’s third section, into that passage of life Shakespeare assigned to The Lover1, to unbridled passion accompanied by delusional mentations concerning life’s relative ease, Shapiro’s resourceful players suffer no hysterics, gender notwithstanding, when their days and nights prove to be challenge-filled. Rather than acquiescing to fervor, this poem’s protagonists cast off of unnecessary accountability, per se, in the process of their self-elevation; they feel no compunction to ape their dear ones’ obsessions.
Whether the men in these women’s lives are demanding perfect, three-minute eggs, or are insisting on intimacies more exotic than those of the Kama Sutra, we can’t know. Looking between the lines, though, we can deduce that those invisible counterparts will continue to low like cattle whether they are stuck without recipes or caught between the sheets, while their women stride forward. Sure Shapiro’s gals do cry, perhaps from relief in having found kindred spirits, or perhaps from exhaustion in having carried their relational toxics alone for too long, but those females, as well, “quash [their men’s] worn-out theories” and elsewise get over limiting ideations that are too unrealistic to put into good practice.
Shapiro’s careful word choice and her attention to her phrases’ telegraphy enable her to convey those teachings. In “The salve of women meeting’s” fourth stanza, for instance, the poet repeats the word “business,” as an evocation both of a dance’s minced steps and as a reinforcement of the notion that the busy work, particular to women’s ways, is an entrepreneurship all its own.
Similarly, Shapiro’s avatar performs solo in “The salve of women meeting’s” first stanza, but interacts with the entire troupe de danse in the rest of the poem. It is as though, through this placement of characters, the author is reminding us that whereas we can find our answers among friends, we come, by ourselves, to our private states of affairs, and depart from them alone.
What’s more, in this piece’s closing stanza, a magnificent finale occurs. The sun is invited to take the stage as a danseur nobel, as the primary ballerino, as a singular counterpoint to an entire band of women, whose adventures were, until that moment, better served without any embodiment of masculinity. As such, the literal star beckons hope and summons the possibility of reconfigured optimism in the intimate lives of the narrator and of her associates.
“The salve of women meeting” shows that we maidens, mothers, matrons, mistresses all, seek balm for the ills of our times and shows that we can discover emotional unguent in each other’s company. This poem also introduces the makings for arriving at peace with our lovers and for enjoying romantic exchanges without losing our integrity.
It is hard to justify running from our worries, whether we try to escape in small développés or in grandes jetés when such good advice is available. “The salve of women meeting” is a poem worth reading.
1. “And then the lover,/ Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad/ Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.” William Shakespeare. As You Like It. 2/7.
KJ Hannah Greenberg gave up all manner of academic hoopla to chase imaginary hedgehogs and to raise children. After almost two decades of belly dancing, home birthing, herbal medicine making and occasional basket weaving, she dusted off her keyboard and began to churn out smoothies, vegetable soup, and more creative work than might be considered proper for a middle-aged woman. To date, dozens of venues, including: Fallopian Falafel, Ken*Again, Language and Culture Magazine, Poetica Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, The New Vilna Review, The Shine Journal, Unfettered Verse, and vox poetica have accepted Hannah’s poetry.
Meanwhile, Hannah formed Expressedly Yours Writing Workshops, took on editorial responsibilities at publications hither and yon, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She established a matchmaking service for words such as “twaddle” and “xylophone,” too.
Incorrigible to a molecular level, Hannah continues to write across genres. Look for her blogs and columns in publications including Israel’s The Jerusalem Post and the UK’s The Mother Magazine. Enjoy her fiction in print and in electronic broadcasts in forums ranging from Bewildering Stories, Morpheus Tales, Pow Fast Flash Fiction, and Weirdyear to Bartleby Snopes, MENSA’s Calliope, Fallopian Falafel, and The Journal of Microliterature. Also, consider buying Hannah’s other books, the collection of light essays, Oblivious to the Obvious: Wishfully Mindful Parenting and the scholarly Conversations on Communication Ethics.