Jeannette Lambert

jazz vocals, poetry etc.

Thoughts on Being Female from Picnic Table Two

1-IMG_7809In a brief few seconds in my mother’s old office I came across this photo, from the summer we went to Parry Sound and made Dave Young play improvised music to poetry with us along the shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. We might have done some standards too but I mainly remember the incongruity of it all, the wild verses and the savage scenery, all with Dave keeping his musical composure. Pretty sure it wasn’t my idea and it is too bad we don’t have on musical record of that event.

As Michel and Dave went on to play on the cruise ship that winds around the islands, I was left to my own devices during that week at the Festival of Sound. Having grown up on the shores of a lake in the north, I was eager to relive my childhood experiences of swimming whenever I wanted in pristine, cool water. The nearest small beach was a walk away along a winding path called the Wilderness Trail. It struck me, as I packed up my swimsuit and headed out, that I no longer had the sense of freedom and security I had had as a child when I went swimming in our backyard. Something about the whole excursion had me on high alert.

I’ve read many articles recently about women joggers going missing or being murdered and we have an epidemic of missing aboriginal women here in Canada. It reminded me of this poem I wrote and later recorded with Michel for our album Lone Jack Pine. Here is the song and the lyrics, for all those of us who have been startled to feel a sense of disquiet in the beauty and tranquility of nature, due to the insidious misogyny that permeates our culture. The lyrics are below and the music is below that.

 

picnictabletwo

Thoughts on Being Female, from Picnic Table Two

on the wilderness trail
rising from the beach
must remember to switch
my bikini for a dry bra

we’ll have no disks of damp!
as I start off alone on the wilderness trail
with salt on my lips that I must not lick away
someone is watching – I’m an angry cat, terrifying
works every time

what was it that her grandmother said?
nothing so shameful
as a woman walking and eating
or was it walking and smoking?
walking and eating or walking and smoking?

a boy from Hong Kong told me
you walk like a lumberjack
but what use is elegance
on the wilderness trail?

you get a false sense of security
on the wilderness trail
so blindly safe
like the unlocked doors of the widow’s house
are creatures lurking in the shadows?
monsters, and abductors of girls?

suspicious even now at picnic table two
with it’s etching
let’s do it on the table

lipstick from the city like a biker chick
hair bleached by the Muskoka sky
ah, asking for trouble, no doubt
asking for trouble
on the wilderness trail

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