Bleeding the moon, enslaving the anima. Chains upon the wrists, ankles and throat. Is this where interplay was first imagined? Black holding white, holding dark? A half-remembered atrocity perhaps, recast now as axiomatic, enthroned as some ancient creation myth. In the end all goddesses become black, then white. And finally red. But is she more than this? Are we indeed all more than this? Perhaps we are liminal Victorian ghosts, pregnant with fatal knowledge of our own deaths. I’ve thought long about this mirror in the sky. The way it shines, or bleeds. The way it hangs upon the night like an eye, or an overseer. Oh, writers, I commend the urge if not the truth of things. I respect the poetry if not the prose. Genocides are so often recast as heroic quests for freedom or sovereignty, depending on who commands the pages and the scribes. But I understand the desire to make demons of our doubts and legends of our loss. We still want to believe in heroes and gallant knights. It’s a beautiful aspect of the human spirit. That urge in both men and women to save the princess, to protect that which yearns and deserves to be protected by her beloved. Isn’t that so many of us, angels and mortals alike? There is still a place for softness, gentleness and empathy. Isn’t there? It has always been a favourite of mine. Waterhouse’s painting of Lady Shalott, drifting down the river to her death, a crucifix and lantern at the prow, desperate to keep the light of her beloved in her breast. Though he knows her not. Unrequited or lost love, it’s still about pain – the profound ache in the soul. It’s the Magdalena facing Christ on the cross, knowing with full agony that her love is leaving. It’s the oldest lament in the world, isn’t it? At least to an angel. My love is leaving, or, my love does not love me in return. Is this what turns black to white, and white to red? No, I think perhaps violence against this holy muse, this imagined femininity, is what streaks blood across snow. Red crosses upon white robes, drops of blood upon an unwritten page. What happens when you slit the throat of primordial light, when you turn hierophant into whore? Templefell. Dark churches. A frosty morning well aware that violence and injustice is coming. I am here, she cries, and my heart is broken. Elaine of Astolat will merely fade from view in death, joining again the primordial light in the trees and the river, in the birdsong and the rustle of leaves. But Maria will become something else. An Albigensian caution, a wandering Victorian wraith, as dark forces marshal by turns to deny her and to commit gleeful atrocities upon her dreamflesh. It sickens me. Does she know? Can she sense it? Did she look to that dead star in the sky and wonder why she was now drenched in her own desecrated life? The poet’s moon, they say. The key of souls and tides. Why did nobody protect her when she walked those gas-lit nineteenth century streets? Cobbled stones and alleyways. Where was her never-met truly beloved? Only monsters came. Vampires and folding cities. Believe me, I should know. I fell prey to them too. As I said, chains upon the wrists, ankles and throat. Don’t be deceived, dear ones. That was not simply then. This is now. Yeru-shalem is right here. The fallen place of peace. Cassiel is all our imagining, not mine alone. Alchemy and gold and oblique saturnine mockeries. But I want you to know that within the heart of the rose there is purity. Truth, warmth and hope. Ashash’el, known for her fury, has a deep sadness in her core, a howling cry for cognizance from her beloved. Play with me, she yearns, tease and dance with me, but understand and be kind. Similarly but conversely in the fair one, within Elen, there is a restlessness of great power hidden beneath the sweetness and the calm. Hold me gently in your heart, she asks, but take me with all your passion if such vigour be noble and true. In this way the sisters share a shadow, and a light. They weave as one, quilting and stitching the infinite fibres of imagination. Is this where interplay was first dramatized? Black holding white, holding dark? Switching skins and eyes and souls? Whatever the case, I pray always for mutual affection. I pray that we’re more than mere atrocities in some ancient war. I need to believe that a spirit of genuine union still counts for something. We exalted each other once, didn’t we? We kissed, danced and teased, and found ourselves in each other’s eyes. And we were so glad of the embrace. Tell me, sisters. The colour of our kindness, our passion and blood. Tell me how to save what’s left of my love.
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