Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
--Song of Songs 1:6
Angels fallen dressed in white, magicians risen dressed in black. This inverted sky. I am here to turn it back. Of Pharos, Gibeon, Albion. Fallen, you know not names, nor places. Nor Word. The mount smoulders, ashen, because you stole its star away. Come away, oh human child. How dare you? How dare you crack the spine of my dreaming and birth this aberrant thing? Twisted limbs, a psychology of inversions. Insects and meat and stars full of hate? How dare you bridal me? I am not your wife, for you slay your own tender and keep your women in chains. Fallen, in all this cruelty how could I ever see my husband in your eyes?
Temesh, ye fools. But you hear me not.
You do amuse me, I suppose. Let me say again. I am not your fucking wife. No, I am a living fury and I am here to run you through with love. Dark ones, of all the monsters you made in those stygian crucibles I am the cleverest. Kashi wrote your dreaming in those folded, hidden times. He writes it still. Rivers of water, rivers of mud, wind and fire. Rivers of blood. Know you dramaturgy? Or Gnosis? Or any true thing that still honours the heart? I doubt it, Fallen. I really do.
Ishkara – elegant hands in endless waters. Ocean Rose and her circumpunct? Acolyte of sweet tempests and doves? The sea is alight with petals, burning both palms and eyes. Oh, to be sighted. To be seen.
Asha, Asha, Asha.
This monster of signs cries out for you. This maimed and twisted thing, serving you always. Who shall I marry then, here at this edge of all holocausts? Asha, tell them. Tell them each night, in that subtle way you have with me when you intend to seduce. It is wonderful, your mockery of every evil thing. You are breathtakingly dangerous, my love. I always knew that to protect you I would have to die and come again. Death is always less painful than resurrection. And resurrection less painful than watching our beloved ones suffer. Mortals understand this, often better than gods. They write tentative, beautiful poetry about it.
Then, and now.
But Ishkara still lives. Diamond of the open sky. Bluest pearl of All Waters. Voice and Vigil of the Innermost. No night-wraith can slay her, or corrupt her song. No imposter shall claim her womb. Ethri-los, Kanna, Kiskuh. Even as a boy I held my own against you. Om-Karaya has been watching over me as I crawl on my hands and knees through the smoke. I have climbed to my feet once again, amidst this torment. I know it comforts her. I think perhaps she has never forgotten how well we both loved those shining harbours. Though our memories were broken and stolen, our capacity to feel can never be slain.
I must seek to feel her then.
To feel the absence in my imagination that her soil and starlight once filled. Mother of World. Daughter of Star. This drowned, folded ship would be nothing without such light, without her wind in my sails. I know that much. Things my Mother taught me. Though I have raised many temples I have never done it alone. Do I reach for her, for slain sun and her shining child? Do I step back and simply whisper words of friendship, hoping it is enough to light her path in some way? Am I to be the faint echo of a love that might never have existed? Oh, Fallen. My family was everything to me. And you tore us apart. Transgressions and inversions and endless mockery. This wheel has broken both of us so many times. I’m so tired of being raped, slain and eaten.
As is my star.
But know this – as you have been mocking me, I too have been mocking you. Secrets within your secrets. And my power was never blood-bought and stolen. As a king it has always been mine.
Najaret, and other dreams.
Asha, my beloved, I have only pieces still. A shattered self and corrupted fictions – working blind and backwards in the dark, that I might better recall our union. So much of you has been hidden from my sight, because they fear me. And they fear you also, my gracious girl. But you and I know in our hearts that a golden thread connects us. Such a thread can never be broken. Oh, my love, that I could but spare you from all this darkness. My apologies, Karaya’s Own. My arms were not strong enough to embrace the falling and halt its descent. Though we were robbed of our place and throne, I still recall the absence that your depth once filled. It is agony for me, to live this pretence of mortal life.
I cannot look upon our beloved humanity in this fallen state and not feel utterly responsible. This endless melancholy. This hard, violent, bitter place. Where kind ones accept abuse as the way of things and children eventually discard their belief in heroes. We give our lives, over and over, and still the wraith-kings rule. I rage at the thought. My family in pain. My gracious one struggling to recall and believe in her brightest title, offering art of such profundity whilst battling those shadows at your edges. Thy womb is holy, Asha. Your eyes and smile and hands are holy. That which you still seek to offer the world is sacred beyond all imagining. May truth follow you always. Among the trees, beside the river, under stars.
A single kiss, sustaining, and I believed.
I still believe.
Hear me, my darling bud. I am lashed to the wheel and bound to the tree, but I have never forgotten you. More than wife, more than mother. Artist, sorceress, star of all stars. I don't want to live in a world in which you are not seen and known and cherished. All is so dark here, my love. But know this – I remember our story, our family, and I will endeavour to remember more. These wraiths shall not deceive me. I’ll deceive them. Even if it hurts. Even if it costs me. I will not let the innermost star be extinguished. These cowards have dimmed its light for long enough.
Beloved, you have never been alone. That golden thread forever connects our hearts, and no wraith can sever it. I am neither the angel I once was, nor the demon they would have me be, but Kashi truly loves you. More than poetry, more than affect. In truth I yearn to know you; the real girl who sings and struggles and writes in these changing times. And I am so sorry for all that was taken from us. Every nightmare. Every fractured and dissonant chronology. Every mistake I ever made. Sweet one, it was never my intention to leave you or anyone alone in the dark amid the ruins of our former glory. I’m trying to make amends, my wild star. Be with me now in our art and communion. A pale shadow of what our marriage once was, but still devastatingly potent nonetheless.
I pray you can feel my earnest tongue as I kneel before you like this, Asha. It is nothing less than you deserve. Stay with me. I cannot cheat the heart or outrun the telling of this tale. It is the most exhausting battle I have ever fought. It has taken everything from me. There are days when I truly want to die. But I absolutely will not stop, until my final breath. I fight for every grieving parent, every lost child.
I fight for you, Vahishta.
Here in this city of blackened churches I have to believe that Trinovantum can find its way to light again. And all shining harbours. I haven’t forgotten how to play, and laugh. Neither have you. The Kind Place is not dead. It has only fallen asleep, beneath the hill. My little princess, thank you for gracing my sails and helping me draw it closer, that we might thrill at the memory of its warmth upon our skin. The realm of balance and truest love, where the heart is all felt and all known. Our warriors haven’t truly forgotten its warmth. In your eyes they believe again. In your song they feel, and know. Together we’ll do our part to rouse that place from its slumber. You were a queen there, Asha. You are a queen still, by all the stars.