This morning I wrote the poem “without” and after re-reading what I had written I quickly decided none of the images would be in anything remotely resembling good taste when it came to a grieving father over his lost daughter. So I present them here instead in the hope they might get used one day for a different poem. Cheers!
If she dies? She has her hand on the hilt,
aware of herself; aware of what she
must not do, not yet. Nothing has been split
out of her, yet. She knows of the red sea
and the purple stars. Her father told her
about the witch-queens; how that long ago
one of them helped save the world. Her mother
taught her the “Way of the Sword,” Bushido
and how death in war is the greatest gift
any samurai could hope for. What’s death
next to letting down your mother? Afraid
does not work here. “Like cherry-blossoms, swift
we fall,” the poem goes. With a deep breath,
she took a step forward and drew her blade.
* * *
Bushido, “the way of the warrior,” is a feudal Japanese word for the samurai’s code of ethics. It has been compared to the Western concept of chivalry. As a philosophy, it stresses loyalty, martial arts and that death in battle is the greatest gift a warrior might receive.
The BBC has recently reported that Pentagon will end the ban on American women in front-line combat:
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift the military’s ban on women serving in combat, a senior Pentagon official has said. The move could open hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and elite commando jobs to women.
Which would mean that as early as 2016 it will possible to follow female generals into war, just like the ancient Mongolian days when Lady Khutulun led the Great Khan’s army against China.
I say all this because even in this era there exists a bizarre myth that women and war do not mix except as passive victims, patriotic mothers or trembling daughters waiting back at the hearth fire for their men folk to return. To all these naysayers, I say, “learn your history.” There have been women warriors and generals as long as there has been war.
Learn about Candace of the Sudan, who routed Alexander The Great; Falling Leaf of the Crow nation who counted coup and was considered a chief, sitting in the council of elders; Maria Rosa, a 15 year-old Brazilian girl who led troops in the Contestado War; Japan’s Tomoe Gozen, an onna bugeisha; the Trung Sisters, two 1st century Vietnamese leaders who repelled Chinese invasions for three years; Queen Boudica who led a major uprising of the Celtic tribes against the Roman Empire; Catherine of Aragon; Joan d’Ark; the pirate queen Teuta of Albania; Queen Zenobia of Palmyra; Egypt’s Nefertiti, just to name a few.