“They say when she fell from Heaven she wore a crown of jagged stars that slit the skies throat. They say she loved them all, in the secret corners of their shallow sleep. Strangers, at the last. They say a lot of things. They’re all lies. Everything is already written.” ~ Gabriel De Leon, from Party at the World’s End

Herbert James Draper The Lamia 1909
“The Lamia” (1909, oil on canvas)
by Herbert James Draper

“It’s none of my business but you must have done something very special
to make a man remember you so” ~ Michelene Wandor, from “Eve to Lilith”

Thursday night. Partly cloudy and cold, 47 degrees.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, two books yesterday after Olivia left. I just couldn’t sleep. But I’ve also been pondering some mythology, specifically that surrounding Sybil and Lilith. Don’t ask me why those in particular because I have no idea. Anyway, a poem began to come to me during the night, and thankfully, I was able to recall at least the subject of it, which is better than what happened the other night when I thought of the start of a poem but could remember nothing upon waking.

Lilith by John Collier 1892
“Lilith” (1892, oil on canvas)
by John Collier

Interesting aside: In a dream a few nights ago, my mother came to me and said that she was glad that I was writing again. The bitter irony is that my mother never read anything that I have written, with the exception of a few poems written as a child. She never expressed any interest, and I suppose I never felt I could share. So the dream was bittersweet.

Moving right along . . . following is my take on Lilith, based in part on the common stories, including this particular passage:

Much to their surprise they found the cellar furnishing in perfect condition: none seemed to have aged at all. They were worthy of a place in a palace, and especially valuable was a mirror with an ornate gold frame, which in itself was worth far more than they had paid for the house.

The wife brought the mirror and all of the fine furnishings in the cellar to her own home and proudly displayed it. She hung the mirror in the room of their daughter, who was a dark-haired coquette. The girl glanced at herself in the mirror all the time, and in this way she was drawn into Lilith’s web/

For that mirror had hung in the the den of demons, and a daughter of Lilith had made her home there. And when the mirror was taken from the haunted house, the demoness came with it. For every mirror is a gateway to the Other World and leads directly to Lilith’s cave. That is the cave Lilith went to when she abandoned Adam and the Garden of Eden for all time, the cave where she sported with her demon lovers. From these unions multitudes of demons were born, who flocked from that cave and infiltrated the world. And when they want to return, they simply enter the nearest mirror. That is why it is said that Lilith makes her home in every mirror.

From “Lilith’s Cave,” as found in Lilith’s Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural, edited by Howard Schwartz

                   

Unintended Consequences

You do know, don’t you, that she never replaced you?
I mean, how could she? For all of the places where
you are dark and death, she is light
and life, the mother of all things,
and totally and completely
predictable. No one has ever said as much about you,
you spurner of god and angels alike,
and while I pretended to want the second one,
the helpmate, what I really wanted
was just one more good fight with you.
and when I heard them call you the mother of all demons,
I will admit it made me smile—inwardly, of course,
now that I’m on probation, kicked out of paradise
because of fruit, if you can believe it. I mean,
the utter smallness of it all. Had it been you?
You would have never risen to the bait,
too smart by half, with those eyes that see everything,
every little fissure in my composure,
all of the pitfalls of living in a place
that has nothing but grace.

I will say it, to you alone: It gets old.
I thought about colluding with the antelopes,
hiding among the herds,
a possible way to escape the sameness,
but they had heard about what was going down
from the lemur, that rat-faced bastard, so they hemmed:
Adam, we like you and your wife, but
we want to keep this gig for a while, you know,
avoid that whole being hunted thing. It’s all good,
right?
What a bunch of posers.
Do they actually think that they are fooling me?
But, truthfully, what could I say? It was good,
too good, too boringly, stultifyingly good.
And then we were evicted, no let’s
work on this
, no thirty day warning,
and she just kept saying, I’m Sorry,
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I never
would have taken that apple if I’d known
,
and you know me, Mr. Male Pride,
I wouldn’t budge, couldn’t forgive.
I just wanted to scream at her,
Leave me alone for a while, would you?
Go talk to the serpent over there,
the one who gifted you knowledge.
Not much use now, eh? Miss Knowledge?

Yes, I know. You have said it before,
told me that I cannot, will not
admit fault, remember only what
I choose to place into history’s books—her mistake
her problem, my feelings, my wounds . . .
me, me, me.
I, I, I.

Sorry. You probably don’t want to hear about her
any more than she can stand to hear about you.
She cried for days after I commented
on how good you looked in the Draper portrait
you sat for. Striking and sensual, I said.
That screech owl, she said. The irony
is not lost on me. Neither is the fact
that she abhors mirrors, cloaks them
in black, as if that will alter
anything at all. Hardly.
Lately, though I have been thinking
that perhaps you were right,
you know, about changing places once in a while,
positions? Trying a few new things?
It may have been a pleasant interlude
from the predictable, the god-awful banality
of everyday life—the same thing,
day after day, not that I’ll ever know now.

By the way, I heard about what they did to you,
trying to make you return, to get you to behave.
Honestly, though? I knew better.
You? Obeying anyone? Never happen, I said.
Tried to remind them
that you were made of such serious dust,
but Sammengelof wouldn’t hear it,
a bloody sycophant when it comes to the boss.
But I never believed they would succeed.
And then when he returned without you,
he tried to pretty the lie,
mumbled something about
Lamia laying down and finding rest.
But his two companions, Senoi and Sansenoi?
You could tell by the looks on their faces
that Sam had gotten it all wrong.
You were never going to give up what you had,
go back to being a housewife,
and I must admit, I’m beginning
to understand that better now
given the recent changes in my circumstances.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop a line,
see how things are at the Red Sea, see
if you managed to make it work
with Samael (you and
the angelic Sams, a bit wicked, that).
I know. I lost the right to inquire
long ago when I ratted you out. You
never could abide a blabberer,
But hey, distance and time? Perspective?
Ironic, huh? But I think I finally appreciate
what you tried to tell me.
Maybe one day you could, you know,
write or text, or even call? Of course,
I don’t know that I would get the message.
We’re still on the move, told the neighbors
we were downsizing, looking for something
with a little less upkeep, and besides,
she is even more clingy now that everyone
can see her for what she is.
It’s so damned tiresome, but
I am the one who asked for her . . .
C’est la vie, as they say. At least I’m not
still walking around with a face
on the back of my head. Damned awkward that was.

Take care. Don’t forget
to watch out for the amulets.

Wishing you were here,
A.

L. Liwag
December 4, 2014

                   

Music by The Civil Wars, “Pressing Flowers”

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Dies Pater

Such a cool gif set: Jupiter, the fifth planet:

From NASA:

Jupiter, the most massive planet in our solar system — with dozens of moons and an enormous magnetic field — forms a kind of miniature solar system. Jupiter does resemble a star in composition, but it did not grow big enough to ignite. The planet’s swirling cloud stripes are punctuated by massive storms such as the Great Red Spot, which has raged for hundreds of years.

Jupiter’s appearance is a tapestry of beautiful colors and atmospheric features. Most visible clouds are composed of ammonia. Water vapor exists deep below and can sometimes be seen through clear spots in the clouds. The planet’s “stripes” are dark belts and light zones created by strong east-west winds in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

“If you’re listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; it’s purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.” ~ Andrew Harvey

                       

“Basically, the only thing we need is a hand that rests on our own, that wishes it well, that sometimes guides us.” ~ Hector Bianciotti

Monday afternoon. Unseasonably warm and sunny. Valentine’s Day.

This is not going to be a post about Valentine’s Day, nothing about rampant commercialism, no statements regarding overpriced flowers for which guilty lovers shell out copious amounts of cash in attempts to be in good graces, no judgments about how gift receivers subconsciously compare their own presents to those received by co-workers, competitor’s for the heart’s affection, or past presents from former paramours, no morality lessons on how we should love one another each and every day, say so often and earnestly and not wait for a marketing ploy to make overtly romantic gestures.

Not going to do it. Have done it before.

Besides, for those of you not up on your mythology, Cupid’s great love affair with Psyche was fraught with jealousy (his mother, her sisters), secrecy (she was forbidden to see him), drudgery (three of the four great trials Aphrodite set for Psyche),  peril (Psyche’s task to go to the underworld supposedly to steal a box of Persephone’s beauty cream), vanity and insecurity (Psyche opens the box in an attempt to make herself more beautiful to Cupid), and finally, bargaining (Cupid appeals to Zeus to restore his stricken love).

Of course, mustn’t forget the story’s coda: the vengeful mother-in-law (Aphrodite) who changes her tune once her beautiful grandchild is born: Pleasure.

In other words, the path to true love is not strewn with rose petals.

It takes hard work, trust, respect, compromise, forgiveness, devotion, and romance more than once a year. It also means knowing when to hold your peace even when not doing so might feel better momentarily (I’m talking about picking your battles, here).

And (take heed on this one) it means developing a keen sense for when your partner needs some basic TLC: encouragement, understanding and unconditional loyalty—I’m not talking about the kind your dog gives you; I’m talking about being able to mean it when you say, “You are great at your job, and your boss doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s lucky to have you.” Or, “No. You don’t look the way you looked when we got married; you look better, if that’s even possible.” Or this one: “Oh that woman over there? I was only noticing how her skin-tight black leather pants make her look really hippy. You would look so much better in those.”

Who of us doesn’t need that once in a while?

“My heart is full of so many things to say to you—ah—there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all.” ~ Beethoven from the “Immortal Beloved” letters

Vintage Wedding Bands and Poesy Rings

When writing about love, few things compare to Ludwig von Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” letters of 1812:

July 6, in the morning
      My angel, my all, my very self—Only a few words today and at that with pencil (with yours)—Not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon—what a useless waste of time—Why this deep sorrow when necessity speaks —can our love endure except through sacrifices, through not demanding everything from one another; can you change the fact that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine—Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be—Love demands everything and that very justly—thus it is to me with you, and to your with me. But you forget so easily that I must live for me and for you; if we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I—My journey was a fearful one; I did not reach here until 4 o’clock yesterday morning. Lacking horses the post-coach chose another route, but what an awful one; at the stage before the last I was warned not to travel at night; I was made fearful of a forest, but that only made me the more eager—and I was wrong. The coach must needs break down on the wretched road, a bottomless mud road. Without such postilions as I had with me I should have remained stuck in the road. Esterhazy, traveling the usual road here, had the same fate with eight horses that I had with four—Yet I got some pleasure out of it, as I always do when I successfully overcome difficulties—Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life—If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these. My heart is full of so many things to say to you— ah—there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all—Cheer up—remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours. The gods must send us the rest, what for us must and shall be—
Your faithful LUDWIG

Evening, Monday, July 6
      You are suffering, my dearest creature—only now have I learned that letters must be posted very early in the morning on Mondays to Thursdays—the only days on which the mail-coach goes from here to K.—You are suffering—Ah, wherever I am, there you are also—I will arrange it with you and me that I can live with you. What a life!!! thus!!! without you—pursued by the goodness of mankind hither and thither—which I as little want to deserve as I deserve it—Humility of man towards man—it pains me—and when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am I and what is He—whom we call the greatest—and yet— herein lies the divine in man—I weep when I reflect that you will probably not receive the first report from me until Saturday— Much as you love me—I love you more—But do not ever conceal yourself from me—good night—As I am taking the baths I must go to bed—Oh God—so near! so far! Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?

Good morning, on July 7
      Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us—I can live only wholly with you or not at all—Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits—Yes, unhappily it must be so—You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart—never—never—Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life—Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men—At my age I need a steady, quiet life—can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mail coach goes every day—therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once—Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together—Be calm—love me—today—yesterday—what tearful longings for you—you—you—my life—my all—farewell. Oh continue to love me—never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours

                    

Music by Bon Jovi (still love this man), “Want to Make a Memory”

                      

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

~ Pablo Neruda