“She is the Blight Mother,
last of the lovers of Dalvarouk,
and the most beloved.
Now goddess, she walks
among the crooked trees,
silent, watchful, and mournful.
Her womb is despair,
her mouth a cavern of fear.
Yet she weeps.
And she weeps.
For no one called mother,
has been made barren
and yet gifted with many children.
Broken, shattered, lost husks that they are.”
I originally had planned for Dalvarouk, or the Unalda of Blight, to have no wife, no goddess (or unalda) by his side. But when I was conceiving this piece she fit perfectly for a great folk legend, an almost unspoken whisper of the last love of Dalvarouk, the one they would call the Blight Mother, for her womb was made barren, and like a blight, she can create nothing but death.
I wanted a minor character in Unalda folklore to not have the same grievances and motives of the true Unalda, while still being married to one. Also, I wanted her to be human, a story of star-crossed lovers turned awry.
I also wanted to play with the idea of a childless mother. A woman barren, and, in many ways, without the miracle that is a blessing–to give birth. In many ways a woman’s identity is wrapped in motherhood, in child-labor. Pain is always sized up to child-birth, and motherhood is the one thing that, I think, truly sums up the female gender, in one way or another. A woman’s compassion and rage is often like the stages of childbirth, or at least the ones I have seen. A woman rages, and it is mighty. To give birth to life is a great pain, a terrible burden, but when the child is brought forth, there is compassion, there is love, clinging, holding. A desire to touch, as though all that rage has been transformed into passion, into a great love of that which has come forth–that you can truly claim as yours.
I know not all women feel this way, but to me, childbirth and motherhood are some of the most beautiful things in the world. And like fatherhood, I think they truly affect how we perceive and engage the world–by those that have taught us, grown with us, cared for us, or, sadly, never cared for us.
What would it be like, then, to be a mother without children? To bear the burden of being barren from that could-be joy? From something so central to the female identity? Some might be glad to be rid of it, but I don’t think, in the end, many women feel that way. And the Blight Mother, also known as the Barren Mother, doesn’t feel that way. She grieves. And only the crooked trees provide her solace, as twisted and gnarled as she. She is renowned, respected amongst the Unalda world, but she wishes only to have that which she can claim as hers–that which takes forth her legacy. But she can’t. And never will.
Instead she has the husks, the blighted creatures from Dalvarouk’s abilities. She is no longer the true mother. She is but a caretaker. And yet she loves them fiercely, because it is all she has to cling to as hers, in a way. A sad tale.
And a tale used to scare young girls at night.
“Don’t be like the Blight Mother, getting caught with the wrong crowd, becoming barren and alone. Don’t run off. Don’t go where I cannot follow.”
She has been given a name that inherently mocks her. But there are a few, who know her pain. Who understand her grief. Who, in many ways, gain strength in knowing such a woman exists now within god-hood.
The Ynalda of Wisdom once met her, walking absent-mindly in the woods, weeping. And the Ynalda of Wisdom did not curse her but stretched out her hand to someone who should be her enemy.
It is said that to this day that the Blight Mother has been, at times, seen with a mystical large deer walking softly by her side, keeping her company; giving her the love she could not have as a mother, but allowing her to love and be loved as and by a friend.
And it is seen as a lesson: that even the lost can be loved. That sometimes all it takes is an outstretched hand, a word, a smile. The barren need not be left to wander alone.