ANC066: WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN by Sophia Tempest Parsons
once I lose my physical form there will be nothing left
of mine for men to take
Shifting alliances in the waning days of the thirteenth century were contingent on the arranged assault of a young Byzantine princess by a Serbian king more than four decades her senior. The child bride Simonida was only five when negotiations separating her from everything she had ever known were carried out. Subsequent consummation of the marriage led to uterine trauma preventing the birth of a future heir, frustrating dynastic intentions for both empires. Twenty-three years of strictly enforced matrimony transpired before Simonida was free. From her husband’s deathbed, the still-youthful queen returned to her homeland where she promptly become a nun in the Orthodox church. Immortalized in a fresco depicting her beauty, Simonida's image was irreparably damaged when raiders scratched out its eyes—an apt coda to a life defined by its abuses.
In WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN, Sophia Tempest Parsons examines what it means to survive without the comfort of overcoming. She finds “everything that has ever happened lasts forever.” One must learn to forgive in an unforgiving world or eternally scream into a void tired of hearing it. Themes of loss—of agency, of family, of god—and powerlessness weave through cathedrals and hospital floors, bridging the fantasy of wandering a desert for forty days with the reality of lying immobilized upon cold cement. Dreams factor heavily into these reflections, as do references to historically controversial women including Medea, Theodora, Alexandra, and Simonida herself. Parsons looks to these icons as a way to find her footing in a world where “you get taken from and get nothing in return,” tracing the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of universal cruelties.
For every copy sold, Another New Calligraphy will donate $1 to Between Friends, a Chicago social services agency dedicated to ending cycles of abuse through counseling, educational experiences, and legal assistance.