A whistling woman and a crowing hen,

fit for neither God nor men. — English proverb

I have whistled and I whistle still,

gone my own way to my own sweet will.

I’ve walked like a target when I knew the score,

filled the basket full and called for more.

And forgot to weave. And forgot to spin.

And brooked the harping wrath of kin.

Why chant from yellow dog-eared pages

the dusty bass-note cant of ages?

To win a father’s bleak beatitude?

I have wandered and I wander still,

followed the vagabond life of the hill.

I’ve inched the cliff of a steep divide,

cinched the water of a running tide.

And forgot to till. And forgot to sow.

And lived on the high. And loved on the low.

Why tread the beaten paths of sages

hoarding up the sins of wages?

To win a brother’s bleak beatitude?

I have danced and I’m dancing still,

set the measure and stepped with skill.

I’ve tossed the board and thrown the dice,

scattered the birds the wedding rice.

And forgot to sigh. And forgot to moan.

And pirouetted to myself alone.

Why tango to a partner’s need

and follow a staccato lead?

To win a lover’s bleak beatitude?

But knuckle under, toe the line

stick to the rule with your nose to the grind

make sure to mend and never mind

the dance goes on.

Linda Arntzenius is a U.S. 1 Summer Fiction reader. Of her poetry, she says: “Many years ago, I worked as a technician in an analytical chemistry teaching laboratory in a university in England. During the summer months there was a lot of routine maintenance preparing experiments for the upcoming academic year and undoing the damage done to spectrophotometers, gas chromatographs, and the like by students of the previous year. I enjoyed the work and was given to whistling. I thought I was pretty good at it, but whenever the union shop steward came along, he never failed to point out how ‘unladylike’ this was of me, quoting the proverb cited above. These rhymed and rhythmic verses are for whistling women everywhere!”

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