Where My Heart Goes

To celebrate the 100th episode of The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast, Heather Rose Jones shares her own short story, Where My Heart Goes

Episode 33a

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[Music] this is Heather Rose Jones with the lesbian historic motif podcast this weekly podcast looks at lesbian themes in history and literature and historic research into gender and sexuality we talk about current historical fiction with queer female characters including fantastic versions of the past and have interviews with authors who write those stories and in months when we have a fifth show we’re proud to present new original lesbian historical fiction for your enjoyment I ran through a lot of ideas about what to air for the lesbian historic motif podcasts 100th episode the fact that it’s episode number 100 isn’t obvious from how I label the shows for the first year I did one show per month and when I switched to a weekly format it was convenient to keep numbering by month and use the letters to distinguish the individual shows so I could keep track of the different episode types more easily so you may have to trust me on the math as I say I ran through a lot of ideas about content in the end I circled back to the reason why I started doing the project in the first place as research and inspiration from my own historical fiction with lesbian characters it isn’t quite the case that all my published fiction falls in that category in fact I’ve published only two stories that are set solidly in history with no fantastic elements of any type but the research I do for the blog and podcast always harks back to my long list of historic story ideas and the more research I do the more inspiration I get so today to celebrate having kept the show up through 100 episodes I’d like to share one of those stories with you where my heart goes was originally published in the collection through the hourglass edited by Sachi Greene and Paddy G Henderson it was inspired by the real historical figures of Margaret Duchess of Parma the bastard daughter of emperor charles v who married into two of the most prominent families of 16th century italy and later in life served as governor of the netherlands and by law Omiya for de query of siena an intellectual and poet who wrote a series of sonnets dedicated to margaret and disappeared from history after participating in the unsuccessful defense of siena against the Holy Roman Empire and its allies their contemporaries praised the love and devotion the two women had for each other and held it up as a model of female friendship later writers suggested that their friendship had not been limited to platonic ideals the truth is hidden in silences and lost correspondence my version of the story is one that can be fit into those silences and absences if you want to know more about the historic facts check out the podcast I did on the top but for now this is a possible truth a possible history a story that could have happened in those spaces and silences this recording is released under a Creative Commons Attribution non-commercial no derivatives 4.0 international public license you may share it in the full original form but you may not sell it you may not transcribe it and you may not adapt it where my heart goes by Heather Rose Jones Siena had fallen the news spread quickly along the roads to Florence to Milan to Venice it came to me in Parma on a pale spring morning with the clatter of a messengers hoofbeats in the courtyard after I paid and dismissed him I hurried across the Piazza to the Cathedral to pray clutching the pendant of Otto Mia’s portrait between my hands as if it were a holy relic mother of God let her be safe let her be alive it had been nine years since we had spoken or written nine long years of my own making I could admit that now it was like the stain of sin on my soul that she might have died without forgiving me now all that was left to me was to wait and pray but the only words that came to my lips were from that last poem she wrote for me may it not please God that I should ever live without my treasure our cruel fortune will you not arrange for my body to go where my heart goes and I remembered when we first met 22 years before I never believed loved Omiya for de Guerre II when she called me goddess and praised my beauty I knew what I was I always remembered how they spoke of me as a girl in the Low Countries when I was still a little bastard before my father the Emperor recognized me and betrothed me to a Medici and that became Madonna after that it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d been hunchbacked or squint-eyed though I wasn’t I was only very plain a little bit too much of my father’s lip and chin for beauty I never believed her when she said I was beautiful but I believed her when she said she loved me though I never knew why it was easy to know why I loved loud Omiya everyone loved me I loved her from that first day I saw her on the hot dusty road winding out of Siena as we passed Villa Olivia we should never have met rebellious Siena had not hung banners in my honor as so many towns had done on the road winding down from Verona through Mantua and on to Florence I was tired not tired of the gifts and fine gowns and bead made much of I was tired of sitting stiffly for hours before a crowd of strangers who spoke a tongue I couldn’t understand I was tired of the constant presence of my betrothed a man whose mercurial temper frightened me though he always spoke me fair Florence that queen of cities that I would next enter as a bride had welcomed me with cheers and song and endless banquets and side long looks of pity and whispers and glances toward my future husband that were filled equally of hate and fear but he had stayed behind in Florence and now I was only tired I saw no other fate before me I was 11 years old we were still five days from Rome Siena had fallen out of sight behind us among the winding hills what a splintering crack was followed by a man’s shouts and woman’s screams the first wagon of our cavalcade had lost a wheel and driven a second off the road into a ditch madam Dell annoyed drew aside the curtains of my traveling chair and said you needn’t fear there’s nothing lost but it will be some hours to repair the wheel and they need to unload the wagons to set them right Wood madama like to take the air I liked madam Dillon oi who had been set to teach me what I would need to know was Duchess of Florence and even more as the emperor’s daughter but a question from her was to be thought of as a command and so I stepped down from my chair and looked to see where we had stopped just above the road stood a red roofed villa like many I’d seen dotting the hills all through Tuscany low walls spilled down towards the road showing glimpses of tall junipers and close clipped laurel trees in the stillness of the noonday Heat once the uproar of the accident had faded I could hear the sound of music and laughter from the gardens beyond and when the men in charge of the wagons returned from the villa in company with a wheelwright and Smith to survey the damage they were followed by a small crowd of bright gound ladies curiously through the side gate from the gardens I still remember hello tomia looked to me then tall and elegant her dark hair braided up with pearls and her eyes bright with laughter only seven years older than me but so assured she spoke quickly with Madame de la Noi in Italian which I still stumbled to understand then turned to me and opened her arms with a smile as bright and inviting as a statue of the Madonna Madame de la Noi said the signora Ford Aquarius invited you to take your ease while the wagon is repaired some said it was only one more move on the chessboard that knowing who I was loud Omiya had calculated what my friendship might someday be worth that was a lie every moment of that brief visit is burned in memory they set me on a chair beside the fountain with my ladies and Madame de la noise standing by to make certain of the proprieties three girls were seeing to the strains of a lute while another pear danced loud Omiya made me a garland of roses with her own hands and then a garland of poetry with her own mouth and when two men began a jesting debate on the movements of the spheres loud Omiya bade them speak only in latin so that i might understand i had stepped outside the world into a garden of delights as only a painter could imagined where no time passed and no carers could reach us but all comes to an end and at last my chamberlain came to tell us that the wagons were ready i needed no prompting from Adam to Illinois to give my thanks for their hospitality and welcome and before Madame could think to protest loud Omiya had bent to kiss my cheek and said write to me and I will send you the little verse I made for you from that moment my heart found a second home in Siena wherever my body might lie she was beautiful of course she was beautiful but it was her soul I loved that bright soul that burned like the Tuscan Sun and because of that I believed her when she said she loved me to the Sienese Villa faded like a dream when we arrived in Rome but the pomp and splendour was left behind when we arrived at Naples I became a girl again with tutors and lessons and endless study when I was set to learn to write in the Italian tongue I asked Madame would it not be proper for me to write to signora for the query to thank her for her kindness to me and Madame consented Castel Pizza hakuna Naples 18th August 15:33 my most esteemed signora for the query I hope you will not laugh at the mistakes in my writing the time I spent in your garden made me very happy I beg you please to send the poem you made for me as you promised your friend Margaret of Austria I did not see loud Omiya again for five long years can one fall in love only through the written page she sent me that first Palm followed by others I read them to myself in moments when I was alone I knew the words by heart before my Italian had mastered their meanings I never wrote to loud Omiya about important things my letters would be read by many eyes before they reached her I didn’t tell her of my hopes when his holiness died and it seemed the Medici marriage might be forgotten Castel Pizza Falcone Naples 2nd December 15 34 – the noble and wise signora for the query it gave me great joy to hear of the birth of your daughter I have sent with this letter a set of coral beads for her and hope that you will accept them I have been reading the book you sent me of the Marchesa Oedipus Cara’s poetry but I think that yours is better I said nothing when my father the Emperor came to Naples or of the whispers that he would now marry me to the new Pope’s grandson I’ve pretended not to hear the rumors that my betrothed Alessandro had murdered his cousin coastal pizza Falcone Naples 15th June 1535 my most honored friend senior for to query I thank you for the new verses you sent it pains me to think there was nothing I can write in return that would give proper recompense as my own talents are so small I send instead the small volume of Erasmus who like me comes to you from far to the north there was no need to tell her when I was Wed to Alessandro de Medici so I only described the beautiful red velvet to Mara I wore when I entered the gates of Florence at midnight with rows of blazing torches lining the roads and how kind all the people were and what they served at my wedding banquet I didn’t tell her how one-by-one those around me were replaced by Ellis Andros creatures Palazzo otaviano Florence 28 October 1535 my beloved friend signora for the query a right to ask your advice on what may seem to you a small matter Monsignor Giuliani has asked to dedicate a volume of poems to me they tell me I should permit it to be polite but I did not think he is a very good poet it may be that you have spoiled me for any other verses than yours what would you advise I wish that I could ask madam Dylan oi but she has returned to Naples along to have my friends about me and wish that I could see your face once more there were no letters too loud Oh Mia in the confusion after Alessandro was murdered she would not have expected that I didn’t tell her how Cosimo de Medici kept me safe until my father the Emperor removed my household to Prato and I could breathe again Palazzo de tini Prato 4th August 15:37 my dearest friend signora for the query I have given thanks to God that you are again safely delivered of a daughter we are settled comfortably here that we have not the elegant refinements of Florence if you know of a musician who could lighten my days I beg you will sent him here I long to see you again we ride out hunting in the hills above the town and I sometimes wish to turn my horse’s head south and not to stop until I come to Siena if only I could join you in your garden I think my heart could be at rest it was not Alessandra’s death that weighed on my heart but the question of my next marriage an ordinary widow might use the black veil to turn men’s eyes and thoughts but I could never be ordinary there was a new for neighs of Pope and Pope’s have ambitious families once again I was to be the bridge to Rome and this time the choice fell on Ottavio for neighs it the Holy Fathers grandson Palazzo de tini Prato 10th October 15:38 my beloved friends in your effort aquarii my summoned to Rome at last my noble cousin cousin mo de Medici will come to fetch me and I have begged him as a sign of the affection he holds for me that we might break our journey in Siena letters cannot take the place of your beloved’s face which I hold in memory as if it had been yesterday please write to me to tell me that I may come there is so much I cannot write in these pages that I long to say to you she had not changed in my eyes I think she could never change and if I had still been a girl of 11 in her mind I saw that fall away she greeted me on the steps of the villa and quickly discarded the stiffness of madama for the warmth of my yarmulke angelic beauty would not delight me more she had written me and she made me believe it Villa Olivia was given into my hands for my stay and I in turn sat ladonia in my right hand and her husband at my left after that first day we left formality behind the Olive dotted hillside called to my restless spirit and we climbed up above the formal garden into the orchards my ladies trailed behind and we settled on a marble bench with the entire countryside spread before us you’re too young for widows black ladonia laughed and twitched my skirts aside to sit as closely as clothing would allow sixteen is far too soon to leave gaiety behind do you mourn Alessandro so deeply I rejoiced when I heard he was dead I said here there was no one to overhear no need for anything but truth Alessandro was a monster and Octavio is a brutish boy if a black veil would keep all suitors at bay I could pretend to a broken heart but I am an emperors daughter no one cares for my heart I care law Omiya took up my hand and pressed it to her lips you are the Sun that graces these poor hills I didn’t believe her but I believed the longing that stirred within me words didn’t matter I only knew that she had no reason to say them except for love my answer stumbled in confusion uncertain what I desired and then my ladies finally came in sight on the path panting from the slope and looking affronted that I had outpaced them the moment passed how old were you when you were married I asked aloud yeah scarce 17 and are you happy I knew it wasn’t a question one should ask I had never looked to marriage for happiness marriage suits me lado Mia said but that was no true answer I love my children and my husband is kind there was an empty space within her reply and she searched my face for something to fill it I didn’t know what I might give and so I stood and we retraced the pay off back to the villa now doh Mia’s friends came to Villa Olivia the next day like bees they descended on the garden poets and philosophers musicians and artists learned men and beautiful ladies though the year was beginning to turn we filled the space around the fountain with couches and cushions and tables spilling over with fruit and braziers to keep the hint of chill away there was wine and witty conversation games of chess and dancing loud Oh Mia sat at my side again and held her cup for me to drink and slipped sweet grapes and fitted cherries between my lips until we giggled like girls this was what I’d tried to build at Prato perhaps I would succeed in Rome they’ve come in your honor loud Oh Mia whispered behind her hand I knew better they came to bask in loud Oh Mia’s son and like the Sun she bade them bloom and they obeyed a poem one man entreated her we must have a poem from our muse and which muse L you have loud Oh Mia answered playfully shall I be Cleo and recites histories for you it is for you to choose he replied with a bow then I shall be the tenth Muse for you my own translation she turned to me and I felt her hand shake as she passed me the wine cup I think he is a great man like to God who sits beside you she held my gaze and I felt her words like fingers on my skin meeting you I cannot speak or see or hear I tremble and turn pale and I too trembled later when the Twilight turned to true night and the gardens turned chill when the dishes had been cleared from the tables and the braziers were being put out one by one loud Oh Mia took my hand and said I have one more poem to offer you tonight if I may she led me to my chamber and our ladies unlaced our gowns and laid them aside and saw that the sheets were warmed and scented before retiring then she whispered verses closely in my ear I know well that you left heaven only to show me divine things and made poetry of her hands and lips playing across my skin with even the finest linen the Warka me she is too great a barrier to allow the wind was chill the next day and we made our garden in the hall with dancing and playful debates at night she came to me again and taught my tongue new words all thoughts of Rome and Pope’s and marriages left me for days at a time but time was a serpent in our garden too soon I was driven out of paradise write to me I begged as they repacked the wagons and the men of my escort crowded the courtyard on restless steeds write to me in Rome and remind me that you love me I will tell the whole world I love you loud Oh Mia whispered and when you were acclaimed the queen of Rome do not forget your poor friend who longs for you Villa madama Rome sixth June 15:39 carissa Milano Mia it is a fine thing I find to be the first lady of Rome at a vo troubles me not at all and I trouble him even less the furnaces are not well loved here and the people of Rome find it no fault in me to hold them at a distance my father the Emperor has named me Duchess of Camerino antennas and given the governorship of Abruzzo into my hands I am finally able to begin to order my life as I see fit your friend the painter francette he presented himself to me and I have set him to work on the frescoes we discussed in a year the gardens here will be worthy of the guests I hope will fill them in everything I do my dearest wish is to honor what you have seen in me loud Oh Mia was crude her word she wrote poems for me openly now her passion couched in the ordinary praise of princes flow ancient Tiber and reflected the image of a brighter truer son Villa madama Rome 10th January 1542 my beloved loud Oh Mia I send the portrait you requested by this messenger I would not have delayed so long except for the need to find a worthy artist would that I could send myself in summer when I traveled to Camerino I will pass your way Villa Madonna Rome 23rd November 1540 Mia Carissa Milano Mia I beg you will pay no mind to the news you have heard and will commit me here as you have planned the far nays have been badgering me about that silly boy Ottavio but my father the emperor is pleased I think that I keep him dangling I keep the gold chain with your portrait always close to my heart but the image will be a poor substitute if I cannot have the substance and though me Hakeem is promised I held a great banquet in honor of the astronomer piccolo Meany who had dedicated his books to her but it was truly to honor aloud Omiya herself the people of Rome smiled to see us ride out together and called us inseparables it was a golden season but seasons turn villa olivia sienna first march 1542 my beloved friend margarita who allows me the joy to call her so when i heard of the terrible news from algiers the one consolation that remained to me was to think that now we would both be widows together I rejoiced to know the rumors were mistaken and you are not doubly bereft of husband and father you may not think it but life can be hard for a woman left alone and I at least have the comfort of my children I pray for your continued health and that you may find some small space in your life to think of me if you are able I pray your steps will bring you to see on as soon I know not when I may find myself in Rome again it was the next year before I was able to answer her plea the gardens at Villa Olivia seemed to be in mourning themselves the paths sodden with dead leaves and the branches bare though it was only the late winter that made it so we sat in her chamber with only a few ladies in attendance listening to a mournful air now dou Mia was full of somber silences and I knew nothing of the cause until I asked what I hoped would lift her heart join me in Rome I urged your life is your own now share it with me she shook her head my darling Gaeta it is impossible I took her hand and warmed against my cheek nothing is impossible your daughters are married your son is in the care of his grandfather what is there left to keep you here who could need you as much as I do margarita there is talk and what of that I thought but she laid a finger across my lips they say you are bewitched the enemies of the furnaces have made unholy bargains to keep you Anitha vo apart they look for a place to lay the blame and we have made no secret of our love for now the world holds us blameless you are famed for holding yourself chaste from men and my love is praised as pure and Noble but what would they say if I came to you in Rome now all my protests were in vain margarita you must be wise silence the whispers give your husband a child it’s long past time and I I will marry again it is the only way that night when we were alone I wasted the precious hours in rage and lamentation but she would not be moved in time it becomes a sickness I think the desire to turn every step into a bargain all my life I had been bargained away to others and I learned to set my own price I gave myself to at a VA and gained nothing except a swelling belly I paid my debt twice over with twin sons quitting me of what I owed my husband should I not be rewarded with more the Duchy of Milan was perhaps too much to ask my father the Emperor had turned his heart elsewhere so I asked for something smaller and I stumbled not in the asking but in writing too loud Oh Mia before that gift to was denied Villa madama Rome 24th February 1546 my dearest and most beloved friend soon if my plans prosper there will be no distance between us my father is pleased to hear of my son’s and I have asked him in return to grant me the governorship of Siena I had not thought what it might mean to her beyond a chance to be together I had not understood that every drop of blood within her veins was of the Nova she’s the founders of the CNAs Republic who still clutched tightly to the dream of freedom now Doe Mia’s reply like an icy wind Villa Livia Sienna 3rd March 1546 to her grace the Duchess of Camerino is my home no more than another pawn upon your chessboard come to Siena as friend and guests or not at all perhaps she should have made allowance perhaps I should have begged forgiveness perhaps and perhaps the matter lay uncrossable between us like the Alps in winter for nine years for nine years I neither saw nor heard from loud Omiya not when one of my sons died not when I was finally confirmed as Duchess of Parma not when we both found ourselves besieged by enemies all of Italy was suspended between the Empire and France like a bone between two dogs but the bones had teeth Siena was not the only City to cast their lot with France and for that my father the Emperor unleashed the Medicis who hungered to extend the reach south and my foolish husband thinking I could stay the worst if it came made secret treaties with France that earned him only empty promises we too had a greedy neighbor and my father gave Gonzaga license to lay siege I thought of loud Omiya throughout that ordeal hearing how she had lent all her wealth to build fortifications and had led a thousand women of Siena in defense of the city the months dragged on and Gonzaga fumed outside the walls of Parma while my father gave him orders to let wagons through that I should not starve I thought how low domion knew no such mercy and wondered if she went hungry when the tide turned once more and Gonzaga was ordered back to his kennel I wrote in secret to the leader of the forces outside Siena Palazzo delveccio veau parma 13th june 1554 to my beloved friend Cosimo de Medici Duke of Florence it has been long years since I knew your kindness in those dark months after Alessandra was murdered but I have never forgotten I beg you if there remains anything in your heart of the love you felt for me to show mercy to one I hold more dear than life itself within the walls of Siena there is a lady of grace beauty and more perfection than can be imagined her name is loud Oh Mia for to query sienna had fallen and I waited hardly daring to hope the news came at last as I walked in the garden on a warm day in April the walls shut out everything but the twittering of sparrows when the messenger was announced I thought it must once more be news from God we’re at a vo had gone to make peace with my father but then I saw the man where Medici livery and my heart stopped madama he said bowing deeply and holding out a sealed letter my lord the Duke of Florence sends greetings my fingers trembled so that I could scarcely break the seal asked and the first few lines passing over the empty salutations for the sake of our friendship I send you a gift that I found within the walls after the surrender I read no further where I demanded in the wagon he said madama there are conditions you should read at all but I had picked up my skirts heedless of dignity and ran through the corridors to the courtyard to pull aside the curtains from the back of the wagon that stood there do not think that I would not have recognized her I would have known her at the ends of the earth or the depths of hell but I think she had been very near to the ladder the hand she reached to me was gaunt I could feel every bone and when I helped her from the wagon only my arms kept her from stumbling I buried my face in the hollow of her neck and could only sob holy mother of God be praised over and over again there were conditions I am exiled from Siena ladonia said as I plied her with comforts and fresh oranges and every dainty thing she had forgotten could exist on the face of this earth from Tuscany from any place the Medici hold sway I should have been imprisoned he said to make an example but then he asked if I would swear to accept exile and he brought me out of the city in secret at night and sent me in a wagon I took her hand and stroked it and her husband she shrugged he fled to Montalcino with the others hope maintains them but I think France will do so no longer loud Omiya looked up at me her hollow eyes full of uncertainty to become a B I had asked the same question for myself so often in the dark of night praying for guidance would she be willing to follow my path we are reconciled with my father once more for the moment he has traded peace and Parma for the custody of my son I have been told to make ready to bring Alexander to him in Brussels I have thought this I had not yet spoken to any mortal soul I have thought to remain in the Low Countries God knows I cannot even see my own fate but will you share it with me she smiled a thin smile like the winters Sun striving against clouds a year passed before we set out a cavalcade to rival the one that had brought me to Italy 20 years before this time I shared my traveling chair not with the stiff and formal Madame Dillon Oy but with the lady of my chamber as the roofs of Parma disappeared behind us I said there is a garden at the Palace of could’ burg walled Ian with hedges of yew and eglantine in the spring the paths are lined with crocus and hyacinth the scent of apple blossom from the orchards drifts through the air like angels song in the summer it will be filled with music and poetry will it please you do you think loud omean nestled closely against me her arm curved about my waist and her lips brushed my neck as she whispered my heart goes there it gives me joy to follow [Music] I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the lesbian historic motif podcast if you want to follow up on anything we’ve covered see the show notes for links and to contact me with questions book announcements or topic suggestions if you enjoyed this podcast please read it and subscribe on itunes stitcher or pod bean and consider supporting our patreon and if you’re on facebook check out the lesbian talk show chat group [Music]