Deborah K. Tash/White Wolf Woman
In Her Image Studio
This ballad was written around 1613 in Northern England. Women were considered chattel; property of their fathers and then husbands especially among the “noble” class. I first heard the song on a Fairport Convention album in the 1980s and was riveted by it. The irony of it was not lost on me. I knew that the woman who wasn’t even named in the song was not being represented fairly and wanted to write a more probable backstory for her. I didn’t get to it at the time but lately have revisited the song. Here is my take on the story folded into the traditional English ballad.
Fifteen. She was fifteen when he struck the bargain; her noble father with the land baron. As a child Ellen roamed the fields and forest of her father’s land; Matty Groves her playmate. They were of an age and devoted to each other. She was a curious child, adventurous and a bit bold. She was, however, her father’s daughter after her mother’s death. A loving daughter who grew more exquisitely beautiful as the years passed. Long slender neck, shapely bosom and hips, elegant hands, thick raven black hair accompanied by full ruby lips and sparkling green eyes, she was a prize to be won.
Matty Groves grew from a gangling boy with sandy-blonde hair and blue piercing eyes as keen as his intelligence into a solid handsome young man. Son to the lord’s groom, he learned the way of horses expecting nothing more.
But they grew out of childhood together, Ellen and Matty. Their roaming the backdrop for the blossoming of their youth and discovery of another aspect of their friendship; love. She was curious and Matty was willing. Soon they lay in each other’s arms after luxurious kissing whenever they could. Still, Ellen was a loving daughter and knew her father’s mind.
At fifteen Ellen was the ultimate bargaining pawn. Her father coveted a piece of land owned by the land baron, Lord Darnell. It had a priceless view, timbered forest, more game than his current holdings and running water all year long. He was accustomed to sword practice with Lord Darnell. Buckling on his sword, he called for Ellen; directing her to prepare herself in her finest clothes. Accompanied by her maid, she was to follow him after some time to meet him at Lord Darnell’s manse.
By the time she reached the manse, the sword play was finished. Her father had proposed a trade; his daughter, Ellen, in exchange for the land. The deal was done. She was fifteen. It was a year before she saw Matty again.
A holiday, a holiday, and the first one of the year
Lord Darnell's wife came into church, the gospel for to hear
And when the meeting it was done, she cast her eyes about
And there she saw little Matty Groves, walking in the crowd
"Come home with me, little Matty Groves, come home with me tonight
Come home with me, little Matty Groves, and sleep with me till light"
"Oh, I can't come home, I won't come home and sleep with you tonight
By the rings on your fingers I can tell you are Lord Darnell's wife"
"What if I am Lord Darnell's wife? Lord Darnell's not at home
For he is out in the far cornfields bringing the yearlings home"
And a servant who was standing by and hearing what was said
He swore Lord Darnell he would know before the sun would set
He had watched her from the shadows since the day she came to Lord Darnell’s house. He wanted her for himself and being but a servant, if he could not have her, certainly no upstart groom's son, Matty Groves, deserved her!
And in his hurry to carry the news he bent his breast and ran
And when he came to the broad mill stream he took of his shoes and he swam
Little Matty Groves, he lay down and took a little sleep
When he awoke, Lord Darnell was standing at his feet
Saying "How do you like my feather bed? And how do you like my sheets?
How do you like my lady who lies in your arms asleep?"
"Oh, well I like your feather bed, and well I like your sheets
But better I like your lady gay who lies in my arms asleep"
"Well, Get up, get up", Lord Darnell cried "Get up as quick as you can
It'll never be said in fair England that I slew a naked man"
"Oh, I can't get up, I won't get up, I can't get up for my life
For you have two long beaten swords and I not a pocket-knife"
"Well it's true I have two beaten swords, and they cost me deep in the purse
But you will have the better of them and I will have the worse"
"And you will strike the very first blow, and strike it like a man
I will strike the very next blow and I'll kill you if I can
So Matty struck the very first blow and he hurt Lord Darnell sore
Lord Darnell struck the very next blow and Matty struck no more
And then Lord Darnell he took his wife and he sat her on his knee
Saying, "Who do you like the best of us, Matty Groves or me?"
And then up spoke his own dear wife, never heard to speak so free
"I'd rather kiss from dead Matty's lips, than you with your finery
Lord Darnell he jumped up and loudly he did bawl
He struck his wife right through the heart and pinned her against the wall
"A grave, a grave!" Lord Darnell cried, "to put these lovers in
But bury my lady at the top for she was of noble kin"
INTO THE DARK
1970, Portland; trees and lush green. Sitting in a downtown park in the middle of the day watching the shadows as leaves gently moved in the afternoon breeze, my body responding to its caress. He walked up, a scruffy street person. Lank dark hair and indistinct features erased by lack of care, he began to talk to me. The all too familiar feel of the edge of crazy interrupted my calm reverie. He wanted to know my name. He wanted to touch me.
Feeling my reticence, he said, “You don’t want to talk to me because you are so beautiful.” Danger breathed into my silence. Something closed down inside me and I let him take my hand. It was warm and sweaty with a firm grip. He led me through the park, the trees witness to my capitulation. We walked to a parking garage across the street. It was well populated with cars as we walked into the dark back recess behind the rows where it ended in a concrete wall. The stale air was thick with the fumes of burning fuel, rubber tires and desire.
First he backed me up against the rough concrete wall, pressing into me so forcefully that I could feel every ridge and crack outlined on my back and buttocks, a slow burn. Then he kissed me, prying my mouth open with his tongue. The taste of past cigarette smoke and beer flooded my senses until my body began to respond. The heat rose as the juices began to flood between my legs. Desire in the dark.
He took me then, shoving his generous and hard cock up into me as I pulled down my panties. Not gentle sex but rutting against a wall. I couldn’t remember if we had even exchanged names. The taste of out of control sent me over the edge into climax, as he came. Then it was over and he was gone. I pulled myself together standing in the dark and then slowly walked back out into the light.
A five minute reading for Story
THE GODS IN THE MIRROR/AN EROTIC ADVENTURE TALE OF SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION (A GRAPHIC NOVEL wip)
(First person/Messenger-Deborah scene change)
I’ve never felt so calm before. I can’t move anything but my eyes and yet I’m peaceful. The stone encasing my body has suspended not only my ability to move but also all of the self-doubt and terror that always clog my mind. I’m trapped in a strange place. I don’t know how I got here or what’s going to happen to me. I’m stuck in a solid block of crystal but suddenly I feel free! I’m free to feel my power and somehow it affects a mirror. I can see it in my mind’s eye even though I know the mirror is miles away from me. It’s up the river at the edge of the water.
There’s a man reflected in it. I can see that in my mind’s eye, too. I remember the heat of his body. How long ago was it when I was dancing in the bar with him? I was kissing him before the Goddess appeared and took me! I could feel his hardness against me and I wanted him. It was exhilarating dancing with him. He danced as if he knew the inside of my body already. We were making magic together on the dance floor. Then my eyes blurred and I felt Her sink into me. My vision of him changed to…something…I don’t know what it was. The air turned to liquid silk, sweet, fragrant and as thick as honey. It poured over my skin, saturating every inch. I could hear the buzzing of bees all around my head. I was wet and dripping with anticipation. I could only hold one thought in my mind:
(First person/Messenger-thought bubble)
“How would it feel to hold him inside me? How would he feel?
My mouth was alive with the imagined sensation of his member sliding in and out…more delicious than the sweetest Chantilly and chocolate. When the Goddess possessed me, she found my sleeping sensuality and multiplied it with her presence. I was so ready for his touch. I could feel every hair on my body as the honeyed air slipped over me, my juices inching down between my legs. My skin tingled and hungered for his touch. The music in the bar thundered in my ears as I was surrounded by fantasy images of him and me together weaving in and out of the dance. As we danced, he moved closer and closer until I could feel the heat from his body barely an inch from mine. It ignited a release that seemed to originate in the center of my soul as the music rushed over us. Then he kissed me. The fantasies began to blur into his touch. The kiss grew wilder as I abandoned myself to his eyes. In his eyes I saw chunks of sky captured in the midst of an ice flow shimmering with lavender light. I suddenly saw the reflection of the Goddess in his eyes; Her ash grey eyes. She smiled and my body exploded with release.
I awoke here, wherever here is. It seemed to happen in an instant. I found myself immobile, encased in solid stone. My senses continued to reverberate with climax, the music and dance, with the memory of his body and his lips on mine. It washed over me, sinking deeper and deeper in waves against the shore of my being. Its pleasure sealed me into the heart of the stone. There was no panic in its aftermath, just a peace that smoothed away every question, all the “how, where, why, who”, rendered unimportant. Just peace, peace, peace…then came thunder.