Aurore on the benefits of exercise

Anne M Carson

1820s, Nohant

Mama and Grandmama both learn that 
I am much better behaved, have much 

better health when I am permitted my 
outdoors freedom. I ride Collette until 

I run the terror out of me, wind whipping 
tears from my eyes, grassy odours coursing, 

or I ramble along the riverbank collecting 
beauties to add to my treasure trove – 

pebbles, iridescent insect wings, rainbow-
hued leaves. They are my talismans. When 

I exercise, when I spend time out of doors 
playing with my village friends, I exorcise 

my demons – fear that Mamam doesn’t love 
me, fear that I will have to choose between 

her and grandmama, fear that loving one will 
hurt the other. When I gallop as fast as my 

little pony’s legs will carry us, or allow her 
to steer our course, meandering through 

dappled light, stopping to nibble, moving on 
at her own sweet pace then, all corrosive 

thoughts are cauterised and my mind settles 
into calm. They give me liberties not normally 

given girls of my station. How they could have 
benefited – both are plagued by troubling

symptoms – Mama’s migraines, Grandmama’s 
general physical feebleness. Even their power

struggle over me could have softened with 
wholesome, build-up-a-sweat exercise.

Oh, but it’s not lady-like.

Note: Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin was George Sand’s name before she adopted her nom de plume

Anne M Carson is a poet, essayist and visual artist whose poetry has been published internationally, and widely in Australia, receiving various awards including a shortlisting in the 2021 Bruce Dawe Poetry Prize. Recent publications include Massaging Himmler: A Poetic Biography of Dr Felix Kersten (Hybrid, 2019), and Two Green Parrots (Ginnindera Press, 2019). She has initiated a number of poetry-led social justice projects, and as a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at RMIT, is writing a poetic biography of George Sand. This work has been gratefully supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.



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