Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Women

The Shepherdess Speaks

Simple elegance
Strong body
Sun bonnet
casts shade over
tumbling tresses
Hint of smile
Head turns slightly
Eyes averted
Basket of posies
loops gracefully
around bare forearm
Sweet dress
swirls gently over
exposed ankles
Feet clad in
flat slippers
firmly grounded
Left arm cradles
shepherd’s crook
worn and ready
at her side
Beware wolves
in shepherd’s clothing

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 September, 2014, reposted 20 January 2021
Photo credit:  DAFraser
Statue stands in the Main Fountain Garden of Longwood Gardens, PA

Nation of Strangers

Nation of strangers
Forced choices
No winners
In this cacophony
Of bitter loss
And gleeful victory

Strangers to ourselves
In a never-never land
Indivisibly standing
Beneath competing flags
Disunited yet One
In Strangerhood

I thought I knew you
Until I didn’t
You my neighbor
My sister my brother
My one-time ally
Whose words now chill my heart

Niceness covered a multitude
Of pain and betrayal buried
In fear-filled hearts
Smiles helped us get by
Until we couldn’t any longer
Forced choices

Dare I go public
With fear and grief
Or do I smile and make nice
Nod when I hear
Everything will work out for the best
No matter what the cost

How do I retain integrity
Honor my neighbors
My womanhood
My patriotism
My Christian conscience
My personal and public dignity

I don’t want to be a Stranger
Or find you’ve become a Stranger
Dare I begin now
By looking you in the eye
How do you feel today?
Tell me about it — or not.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 November 2016
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Or

The Lady of Shalott and I | Story #2

The Lady of Shallott

Painting by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), Tate Gallery, London

In 1983 I began teaching theology at a seminary in the Philadelphia area. Though my office was small, it had a window and built-in bookshelves on almost every wall. The other wall slanted in at the top–taking up precious space and head-room. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Marriage | Part 2


Fall 1965-Spring 1966. That’s Park Street Church in the photo. It’s on a corner across from the Boston Common (to the left), and down the hill from the Statehouse. Stately and elegant, the church has a history of outdoor preaching at mid-day from the balcony you see above the corner doors. (click to enlarge)

I’ve never been a member of a church like this. In fact, I’m almost allergic to great big famous churches. Still, it’s an interesting church, and we decide to attend there.

On Sunday mornings traffic is decent. That makes it easier to navigate the twisting cow-path back streets of Boston. On the map below, Park Street is down on the left, just next to the green area–the Boston Common.

~~~Boston Street Map 1960s

~~~Boston Street Map 1960s

Every now and then the senior pastor of Park Street Church hosts a small group of students in his home. It’s for men interested in theological studies or in becoming ministers. Spouses are included, though I don’t remember meeting any except the pastor’s wife. As I said, it’s for men.

Sunday evenings we go to a group for young adults. Most are men, students in colleges and universities. Not many women. Definitely a place to meet, greet and look for interesting people. It seems women have yet to make a substantial mark on the Park Street Church.

Right now D and I are mingling with the large young adult group, meeting and greeting each other. The meeting hasn’t begun yet. Just the mingling.

The following short-version ‘dialogues’ are in my voice. You’ll have to imagine the other sides.

~Hi, I’m Elouise. Pleased to meet you. ‘Elouise.’ Yes, with a ‘u.’ It’s OK. I understand.
~Hi, I’m Elouise. Yes, I’ve been here before. No, I came with David. Yes, he’s my husband. Nice meeting you, too.
~Hi, I’m Elouise. It’s OK. It’s hard to remember names and faces. No, I came with David. See you around.
~Hi, I’m Elouise. That’s right; Elouise. No problem. I’m David’s wife. Nice meeting you, too. See you around.

Is there a sign on my back that says ‘MARRIED’? Why aren’t there more women here? Why am I here?

I know I’m a good listener. But do I really want to hear which courses everyone is taking this semester in college or at a university? Or who’s got which professor? Or the resounding silence with which I am received?

Who am I, anyway? I used to have a name, an identity, friends and a family. And people wanted to know what was happening in my life!

Today I have D. That’s all, besides myself. And ‘MRS’ emblazoned somewhere on my person or hovering above my head.

I know D is interesting. Have they already decided I’m not? Maybe they’re afraid of me. And where are all the women? Aren’t any of these men married? They seem to be allergic to me. Why am I here?

I move a bit closer to D. At least he knows who I am. D reaches his arm around me, smiles, and keeps talking. I think he wants to reassure me.

I’m thrilled to be married to D. But why do people look past me to D when we’re together? Some just walk on by without even acknowledging me. Am I invisible? I know I’m much shorter than D. But surely they see me! Am I that uninteresting?

After several weeks, it seems everybody knows D’s name. I can count on less than one hand how many know mine and actually talk to me. Though when they do talk to me, it’s usually about D! What am I? A robot? A decoration?

I tell D how I feel about this. He sees it, too. He tries to include me in conversations. Most of the time this works for about two seconds. It’s all in the eyes that look away, refocusing on D.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t come.

To be continued. . . .

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 April 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, Spring 1966 (Park Street Church), and (Boston Street Map 1960s)

My heart still pounds | Part 1

Nearly 30 years later, my heart still pounds loudly when I relive this event.  It’s early fall 1985.  I’ve been teaching theology to seminarians since fall 1983.  I’ve agreed to make a presentation at an informal faculty gathering. Read the rest of this entry »

Commodified Females and The Boss

It’s out there.  I published it.  Why am I feeling so much more exposed now than I did when I wrote about my father?  Or even the Shopkeeper? Read the rest of this entry »

My First Boss | Part 2 of 2

There’s more than meets the eye in my new work setting.  Though I’m a newcomer, the Boss already has a Miss Renich game he’s determined to play.  I’m an unwilling target and participant.

What’s the name of his game?
Any of the following will do: Read the rest of this entry »

My First Boss | Part 1 of 2

It’s late May 1960.  I’m 16 years old and about to meet the 3rd most formative man in my early life.  My father is #1.   The Shopkeeper is #2.  This man will become #3.

I’ve just graduated from high school and am looking for a job. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been an age


It’s been an age since I first met you—
You there, looking back at me
Three score years plus eleven to be exact
You haven’t changed a bit, they say
You and I know better Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother, My Teacher | Part 2 of 2

I’ve never thought of Mother as my primary role model for relationships with men or with women.  Yet she was precisely that, in ways my father never was.

About gatekeepers and me
Gatekeepers:  The bosses. The men in charge.  In my lifetime they’ve all been men.

Their words and attitudes could make or break a woman’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry »

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