Lady Nyo and “A Bad Quarrel”

The “Lady Nyo” I am writing about is the character I developed in the  yet-to-be-finished novel, “The Kimono”.  I have posted some chapters on the blog of this story.

Lady Nyo is a wife of a samurai vassal in this mostly 16th century story.  When I first started writing this novel, I hadn’t a clue how much these  secondary characters would impact the story.

Over the course of two years, Lady Nyo has come into her own.  Her character, personality…is developing in surprising ways.  Surprising to me, because what I plotted for her turned around and bit me in surprising places:  the Lady Nyo had a mind of her own, and when I let her have her head, she did unexpected things.  Thinking of her as a secondary character…well, she didn’t think of herself in that way at all, and has become rather a fulcrum in the novel.  That’s all to the good because what I supposed to be a rather retiring and shy creature has become something else.

Using her developing personality, I have written (or she has….and I will give her the credit) a small book of verse, poetry that cycles through four definite phases.  She’s a married woman, married at 15 to Lord Nyo who is another secondary character in this rather long novel.  This “A Bad Quarrel” section is right in the middle of the cycle of verse.

The other Lady Nyo.



My soul was blossoming,

Secure in your protective shadow.

I stumbled upon this road we walked

And all was suddenly lost.

Perhaps the fault was I did not

Tightly grip your hand?


Like a ghost under water

Only the moon gives illumination.

Throw a pebble there

And see how fragmented I am.


I can’t look in the mirror

when I awake.

(My eyes swollen with last nights sobs

my pillow filled like a lake.)

If I could turn back the hands of the clock,

I would give up those moments of life

To restore lost harmony….

But I dare not look this morning.


It is raining outside,

It is raining within.

Do you think I care about that?

What happened

Has disrupted

all the essentials of life.


Who opened the window?

Who let the bees in?

They are the life

I am avoiding.

Their legs have honey on them!

Too sweet for my present mind.


Outside is a tender spring.

Inside it might as well be winter.

There is no warmth

Generated by memory.


I am told this is a little death

I will have to bear.

Perhaps I don’t want it to end?

Then the thought of living without you,

Or the threat of living With you…..

Would upset my self- pity.


There is nothing from you today,

But then, it was I who moved afar.

I did this from self-hatred,

But found there was enough to spread around.


When I get to the anger

you will know I am recovering.

Not nicely, there will always be scars

and jagged edges,

tokens of our  time together.

Do you feel any of this pain?

No, perhaps not.


My laughter is as hollow

as that stricken tree by the pond.

I have not laughed for a long time.

It strangles in my throat.


This morning I awoke,

the first time in days,

and everything sharp-edged–

my eyes were hardened steel,

my mouth a grim line of dead embers….

But my hands are now steady.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2010

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