Mourning Woman by Unknown
I know in my last two poetry posts I forgot to credit the artists. Apologies, apologies, I hate it when I do that. I will try to get to them as soon as I can.
In the meantime, another entry for the Demeter Devotional. My entries haven’t really been too happy, so far. I feel like I’ll need a purgative rite after this Winter has finally ended.
I. The Light Dims
Chloe was barely able to make herself walk: day after day, the same weight hung over her like the sword of Damocles, and while each day saw the urgency of her search fade, it also saw a deepening of the wound. The autumnal hymns of the rustling leaves did nothing to console her, only reminded her of an absence she couldn’t recover from. Her lonely arms gathered the cloak around her, protecting her against the chill of the air.
My daughter is gone.
Chloe was beyond tears, beyond forgetting, beyond pacification. There was nothing in her heart but an overwhelming rage stifled by cold detachment, the denial that comes with seeing and knowing too much, feeling enough to break into piece too sharp to piece together.
There was nothing that she had not tried. She had laid down her crown and cast off her veil and fasted like one mourning a death, abstaining from the pure, pure halls of her peers. She wandered her world over, the torches of desperation and hope blazing like stars- torches snuffed out when the clarity of day shone its golden light on a world bereft of all that the girl had been for her: the joy of innocence. The coltish sweetness of inexperience. The gentleness of the young and tender. The vulnerability of the new green. She laughed when she realized the ridiculousness of life, of living, watching an old woman make mockery of herself and of the physical, chemical tides which had ruled her until age discarded them. She mimicked this and tried to take on the devil-may-care attitude, and found her thoughts returning only to her child that had been raped from her arms, rapined and violated as she had been by the god that shakes the earth. She tried to take a new child, and was met only with the puling contempt of her gift by an ignorant mortal, too dull in his senses and too self-centered to see beyond their own noses. She retreated, then, to her temple and cried for her losses, wailed out her agony and tore at her immaculate, ambrosial flesh until her holy ichor ran down her cheeks in rivulets when she had no more tears to shed.
It was dull in the temple, listening only to needy prayers of those who could not, and would not had they the opportunity, ease her pain- they are too focused on their own needs, the filling of their stomachs and the survival of their families to identify with the deep grief that will not leave. She had taken to wandering the woods and the meadows, the girl’s favorite places to play, her sore, bare feet crushing the fragile leaves underfoot and letting the thorns stab through, numb as she was to the insignificant pain of it. She laid her head upon a bough that rustled with the red, saffron, gold and earthen colors of what would have been to anyone else a glorious Fall. The air remained cool yet familiar, like the flesh of one dead.
My daughter is gone
II. Every Rose has an Abundance of Thorns.
They called her so many things. “Mother” was a popular one, though she had no children. “Lady” was another, though she had been robbed of her throne. “Wife without Equal” was yet another, an old favorite, though her brother had betrayed her and robbed her of the greatest of her joys. Rose they called her, Rose so sweet and pure, which now only smelled of bitterness, the salt of the sea and the purest of acids which ate her from the inside out.
My husband is gone.
There was no other word for it but murder, and murder encompassed every detail of the violent crime that stole her own life-breath from her lungs. He was gone, shut in a box and cast like offal into the Nile, a thing unwanted by the unwantable and unvalued by those without value. An imposter stood now in his place: ate at his table, sat in his chair and laid in his bed. She let down her long hair, so now like her sister’s, she who’s breath is fire and who walks among the necropoli: it fell like the strips of cloth which wrap the dead, and the reminder only brought a fresh uprising of her unending grief.
She, who had fooled the great god Re into revealing his name to her, granting her sorcerous powers beyond what she was born with; She had helped, hand-in-hand with the one she loved more than anything else in any imaginable world, civilized their pyrexic world and created a dynasty of cultivation, of happiness, of civilization for the unwashed, savage people who originally inhabited the land. And HIM, that loathsome pretender with the blood of his kin staining his hands, had sought to lay those red palms upon her- she had fled into the papyrus swamps, humid and suffocating fens that invoked from her enough perspiration to match her unending tears.
She roamed aimlessly, never in the same place once, searching for her beloved’s casket, to lay him lovingly in the ground for the repose of his wine-sweet soul. There were nothing but the reeds: cutting her fingers and legs, slapping her in her face and answering her pleas with only their whispering, reedy whistles- a sound that might as well have been silence. Her crown had been cast off. Her fine robe abandoned. She traveled as quietly as grief would allow, softly as her mud-caked feet would abide as they sucked up from the wet earth with every torturous step.
She could not find him. She could not find him! No matter how hard she searched until her eyes reddened like the dying sun with weeping and searching, no matter that she never searched the same place twice, there was nothing to be found. She could only imagine the wandering Ka of her lover, his Ba starving without its proprietary offerings. Without his proper rites, his soul would not survive, he would not survive. Without her, he would no longer be. But there was no where she could find him.
My husband is gone.
Demeter Mourns Persephone Detail by Evelyn De Morgan
Mourning Isis, Louvre
Chloe felt wood splinters under her nails as her fingers dug into, and then shattered, the tree branch. All the internal fire stoked by the ignominies visited upon her arose like a phoenix, or like the Benu bird that was the soul of the Egyptian sun god. She saw only red: broken pomegranate seeds, blood poured upon the altar, the diaphanous veils of the Hetaere, homes burned like mere kindling to the ground. The fire scorched her, and greedily ate up all the other colors that she had known before. The green disappeared in the face of a rage no longer to be denied.
There was only that: wrath. Wrath for the earth that refused to keep her mouth shut, who aided the escape of a rapist and a betrayer; Wrath for the humans who thought only of their pitiful little lives, who greedily sucked the milk from her teat and the life from her veins and still sniveled for more, when there was no more left to give; Wrath for the brethren that refused to liberate her daughter, poisonous consolations dripping from their lips like aconitum stewed on their tongues. Why should they all feast oblivious to her famine? Why should they all thrive when she was withering? Why should they all continue on when she was here, frozen in place and unable to flourish like the crop she had given?
Chloe had loved all the world enough to give the it her bounty, to give of her nature, and it seemed all the world had turned deaf ears upon her sorrow! She howled, a great cry tearing out of her throat and shuddering the trees with its force!
“Let then the world know my wrath, my agony and the feeling of bereavement! Let famine run rampant through the fields! Let the trees and ground freeze like my heart so that no plow can break the ice, no fire keep them warm and let nothing spring up from the earth until my daughter does!”
Her word was law. The fire in her heart raced through her veins and flooded her with divine rage. Her broken heart unleashed the torrent of her passionate acrimony and her still-sweet, still-beautiful appearance altered. Her wheat-blonde hair blackened like a burned field, her milk and alabaster skin became dusky as an opened grave. No more was she Chloe, the green and verdant one, but Eryins: the wrathful, the roaring, she whose heart and bones were made of unrelenting flint. Her twin torches revived in her eyes, resurrected and renamed for the one thing that would pacify her heart, that would soothe her pains and right her wrongs.
The force of that wrath issued out from her like a circular wave: the trees withered and the brown leaves fell. The lovely, crisp air of autumn became the a biting cold and Boreas let forth his breath to cover the face of Gaia with the frost and snow, to let ice encase and kill everything that lives and moves.
And down below, in that subterreanean kingdom, Kore would feel her mother’s sorrow, and weep.
IV. A Lady of War
All was done, and Rose knelt once again in the papyrus swamp, now her shelter and her comfort. A war had been fought, and a war was yet to come: her lover’s corpse was found in the sweet smelling trunk of a tamarisk tree, and was kindly given to her by the king of Byblos, who had adorned his royal hall with a pillar made of what was, of course, the most beautiful thing. Brother, killer and render cut him to pieces and strewed his body through Egypt, but Rose and her dark sister wandered, wailing, gathering every part they could find and fashioning new parts for the ones consumed by the crabs and fish.
There were so many pieces: fourteen, sixteen, forty-two, a thousand, and the sewing of the pieces together was a macabre women’s circle: the chatter replaced by tears, the happy or bored sighs with shuddering gasps and strangled silence. It was here Rose found her new name, in the silence that feel from her lovers stitched lips, in the silence in which he dwelled, in the silence he now embodied. She had loved his life, his kindness, his touch…how could she not love his silence. Meretseger was born from the funerary rites of her murdered husband.
She and her sister (nearly the twins they were) raised him up, and he embraced her one last time before descending to the dark Duat, for the dead cannot rule where the living tread. In that embrace, he gave Meretseger a means to vengeance against their brother, against the one who had broken the family even before its inception. Heru grew like a tentative, silent weed in her womb, his finger pressed to his lips even there are if acknowledging that he had come from two silent beings: one dead, and the other dead at heart.
For she was no longer the rose without thorn, since her hardship had made her sharp and canny. She was all angles, all sharp edges, and the growing child in her womb received all the love and tenderness she could spare, because for herself, there was none. Her skin turned sallow, her mouth down-turned and her eyes lit with a desire for the only thing that would right her wrongs and restore to her as much as was stolen as possible.
Meretseger caressed her belly, caressed the silent child she carried in her womb. She bore vengeance, and war, and the integrity of wrongs made right within her and under her heart. It was nourished on the song her heart sang every day until his birth and lulled him to sleep every day until his manhood: retribution, retribution, give me retribution!
And down below, in that subterranean kingdom, Asar would feel his beloved’s pain, and weep.
Spent the night in the hospital on Thursday/Friday. Go ME!
I’m fine, and will be fine. I will just have to jump through more hoops and get some things straightened out. I have to see the doc immediately Monday, though. This is being published today, but it was started at the beginning of Thursday night and finished on Friday morning before I slept exhaustedly.
I still say BRING IT. When the going gets tough, the tough get a battle axe.