Summer’s Passed

A summer had gone by since she’d written in the book, since she’d felt even the smallest glimmer of desire to look at it. From spring to autumn, it sat on the shelf hosting dust mite symposia and nothing else. More than a few of the mites had, in the process, acquired a deeper sense of meaning in their tiny lives just by perching on the cover, gnawing through the title page, while others still found simple contentment floating mindlessly in the sun beams that poured through Anna’s bedroom window.

It was November when circumstance finally pushed her back into the writing chair, when the silent approach of winter hung still in the doorway. Fall had come in a flash, almost without salutation. All at once the leaves yellowed and the skies grew awfully grey.

The day she returned to the book the weather proved rather mild. The wind moved like laughter through the air. And the moon had come out well before curtain call.

By this time, the Quartet had left House du Petit, no doubt in search of warmer climes–more specifically the climes of an invisible Hawaiian island, where, according to Anna, a stale apple pie spoke at length of humanity’s worst mistakes, and the honeybees were as big as your fist.

Meanwhile Anna had returned to the Midwest, hoping to lead some semblance of a normal life. The Shaman saw to it that she wouldn’t–and it was precisely his interference, an ongoing and increasingly vivid campaign of dream transmissions, that prompted her to sit down and finally write once more.

After all, the Book of Pie would not finish itself.

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The Shaman

Want to know something about the Shaman? 

He’s not Jesus. He’s just a guy who stumbled by accident upon the waters of eternal life. 

Making pie is not about immortality. 

It is about leaving his burdens behind. 

Getting out of his mind. 

Away from himself. 

From his sins.

His memories. 

His past. 

But his past isn’t going anywhere. 

It’s as present as the noon day sun hanging over the Pacific. 

He wakes up and faces it every morning. 

It’s his cross to bear. 

And Anna has not come to set him free, 

Nor has he come to enlighten her. 

Of this we can be certain: 

The two have things to learn from each other. 

For they are more alike than either know. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (an excerpt)

“Tomas came to this conclusion: making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep.”

And I, the reader, am reminded of the graceful tenderness of our legs entwined as we slept, like two aspens tangled at the root; how when we awoke, the sight of you was often enough to make my day whole.

The Whore and the Holy One (cont’d…)

The only thing that keeps me from going back is shame. I wish not to hurt Gustav, nor disappoint him. But I will not lie and say he is the source of my sheepishness; it is my own. The shame is mine. It is that which fractures me from myself; that which gives me pause and forces me to struggle against who I am. 

One minute I am ready to flee Gustav and the hearth and the horses and the goats, and return to the streets and the country sides and my endless wandering; return to dimly lit bedrooms with dark skinned men salivating and seething in their lasciviousness; return to the sailing ports and the battle camps, and the galas; to the faceless customer with pocket full of coin and the promise, within his loins, of some hidden ecstasy. The next minute I wish to retreat to my desk, to my books, to my prayers, and meditations, my altar of crystal and incense, to the sage brush and the lavender smoke, to fine linens, and the love of a man who venerates me, who celebrates me as holy, as goddess, as moon. 

But never shall the two poles of my life greet each other. Never shall they warmly embrace that which both lack. Never shall the whore in me, the wayward slut, wild, sensuous and free, meet the holy one, the innocent maiden, the vestal, solemn and pious. 

I regret only that I will not live to see a world in which I am whole. Rather I feel I must accept this fractured existence and allow myself the space to be broken and yearning, always yearning… for something profound, something exuberant, something more. 

The Whore and the Holy One (cont’d.)

There’s a swallow on the tree outside the hearth window. A band of light wrapped like ribbon on the branch. The morning is rising in a sea of deep blues and wispy little clouds. Gustav has gone to the town for a meeting. I will meet him there later, after I have completed my writings. For now, I am caught thinking about the crisis that has befallen my life. This dance between archetypes. This chasm in my personality. 

The Whore and the Holy One. Parts at eternal odds. Distinct. Separated by a valley. The good girl. The poet. The book reader. The sweet soprano. The angel. The bad girl. The slut. The dirty nomad. The abomination. The demon. I am only ever one or the other. My feminine spirit remains cleaved by illusions, old world beliefs; it remains fractured by unseen shame in my heart. I am a child of this world of men, this world that is fearful of woman, fearful of sex and fertility, creation and passion; this world that fears the moon–that seeks to lasso her from the night sky–this world that fears the sea, her waves, her hidden depths, her capacity to swallow cities whole. And I am no different; I too live in fear of the powerful forces stirring within me.
I am filled with the sacral energy. It pours out of me unconsciously. And I wonder if, at night, I roam around the city streets looking for a good time in my sleep. I love Gustav. He takes care of me. He feeds me. Clothes me in the finest linens. He has given me the gift of language, made it possible for me to write elegant works of poetry. Without him, you would know nothing of my life. Yes, I have much to be grateful for with Gustav. But he wishes for me to renounce my whorish ways, to never return to my old life. He wishes for me, piety and purity, safety and health. And sees nothing of that in my past. Just a girl debasing herself to the lowest of the low. But I am finding something in my studies. I am learning of Isis and Ishtar, of Diana my namesake. I wonder where have gone these feminine idols? What world hath caged them in caves? And how, through such barbarism, have I come to find myself split? Trapped in between the Whore and the Holy One. 

But now I wish to quit speaking in the abstract. For there is a life I have lived, and though it is far from over, though I am still young and by the accounts of many beautiful, there is much to tell of my past. Perhaps Gustav wants me to bury what I have done, to become his holy angel, but I cannot hope to evolve without first acknowledging the seed from which I have sprouted; this seed buried in the body of a little boy, somewhere near the Adriatic, living with an old whore in her elegantly adorned house. Without her, it is true I would be nothing; least of all the woman I am today. 

So I shall tell you of this lost existence, which leads me here to Gustav and the stable hearth window; and I will give you the fragments of the life that must have come before all this, the string of broken memories stitched together in my imagination. 

But first, I must be off to meet my husband. He awaits my arrival, no doubt with a placid smile on his aging face, and I wish not to upset him. 

The Whore and the Holy One

I am suddenly fraught with an indelible urge, and in my aching a sweet, untapped power sleeping in the force of my soul. I was too young to know it then. Then when I was a mere infant, a boy in the eyes of the world; a slave in the eyes of the hag. How I secretly despised her, beheld her with such contempt even as a child when my eyes were knew and my knowledge was little. Since those days, I have changed beyond recognition. The serpent has found me again and again where I’ve hidden; forced me to step further into myself, into the darkness dwelling unsung within me.

My name is Diana, though I go by Di. I am unsure where I come from though I suspect from the old hag’s rambling that I was orphaned via shipwreck. At night, I can hear screams in my sleep. They are faint, almost inaudible. But I hear them. One of them may be the voice of my mother. But I may just be making believe. Much of my story is composed of blank spaces, which I fill in at my leisure.

I am writing this from atop a walnut desk in a stable hearth. There are horses neighing beneath me. And a window in front of my desk that overlooks the pasture and beyond it the little toes of the city. This hearth has become my citadel. The temple of a religion of one. I am married now. He is a good man, though we do not make love. He reveres me too deeply for that, he says.

Still when he is away I touch myself upon sheets of satin and pillows of velvet, my body splayed in the glassy moonlight, fingers off performing their sacred missions, and I think of him hovering over me, inside me, enveloping me; I think of letting go; of sweet, ancient surrender. To him I am holy, but to me I am whore—the slut who longs for consumption in the carnal; the slut who longs to be swallowed whole by the sirens of ecstasy; the happy little curly slut who dreams of my lost homeland, of my mother whose face I do not know, of the gardens, and the honeybees, and the salt swept breezes off the windy coasts.

I am uprooted. A nomad. Even in my marriage. I harbor from him a hidden life, a life he does not see nor could he. I await the day, I admit, when I may return to the endless walking paths, the roads, and the tree lined forests. I await the day when I may once more practice the sacred rituals of my body’s essential nature. And if my feet so will it, find my way back home, wherever home is.