Sunday, February 11, 2024


Parts 5-7 of my piece “The Goddess as Active Listener” are now up in Scene4. Excerpt:

 When I remember Sue Castigliano, I think of almost naked dancers vaulting above the gold-tipped horns of Cretan bulls, to the sound of waves breaking in the distance. Wandering with the ghosts of an exploded island empire, I enter the doors of a library that I first thought was an octopus. When I think of her, I see wheat bound in sheaves, gourds hanging from a makeshift wooden peristyle, grapes being stomped by rhythmic feet in vats. I think of the minute preparations of a glad community in the month before a human sacrifice.

 When I remember her, I think of a face that encompasses multitudes, whose each component is distinct, the dark face of the goddess, projected against lowering clouds. I think of Ceres, of Inanna, of Isis, of Coatlique, and of Oshun. I think of olive oil sleeping inside of prehistoric jars, the Sibyl smoothing out her wrinkles in the shadow of the arch of Constantine. I think of a young girl standing on a cliff above the sea, the wind playing with her hair, as she listens for the voice of her drowned lover.

 Her body is the world tree. Her navel is Omphalos, the place of interconnection. Her womb is the cave where stars can get changed into their human suits. In her left palm Saturn, time’s comptroller, tilts and revolves. The fingers of her right hand touch the Earth with a gesture of abundance. And then, quite unexpectedly, she stands before me in a robe. In her eyes, I can see ships sailing back and forth. There, beneath the gigantic shadow of a wave, a wave that towers, still swelling, up and up, they go in search of a dock that is nonexistent.

 Above our heads: a roof, whose beams have disappeared. There is only a charred corner. The shore is not far away. The astringent scent of salt is softened by the scent of moss and rosemary. “Beloved, come. Like fireflies, the ghosts of all past seers flicker in the dusk, where, if you hurry, you might catch one in a jar. Our fingers touching, like our souls, by its light we will read an elegy on the metastasis of Rome, on the triumph of the Age of Iron, the last statement by a master who is called by some “Anonymous.” Upon your lips, my breath: the elixir by which your name will be alchemically removed.

 “Many years have passed since the day that you were buried, facing east, with a luminous stone clutched tightly in your hand, with much to say that would never be expressed. It is reasonable that your knees should start to tremble and give out. A drum beats in the distance, in the labyrinth of your ear. My pulse suspends you. Are you dead, or are you not, or is there some third alternative?

 Continue reading:

My first book of essays, Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence, is available through Untimely Books and Amazon:

Image: Massimo Campigli, Three Idols, 1960

No comments:

Post a Comment