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Muhammad A. Al Mahdi

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Member Since: Dec, 2004

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Short story

A small pliant dark figure borne by wind and rocks as if by right.

There's nothing remarkable in her until you look into her eyes, deep with knowledge and vulnerable with pride, deepened still by the awareness of ecstacy and by a longing that lends them the grace of moonlit shadows. Nothing remarkable until you see her smile sweet as honey, strong as wine, deep, again, with a grace that has broken her own heart.

She walks between the rocks, and the stones, in suspense, remain silent, their breath withheld, without a will of their own, bearing the feet of gazelles, the feet of girls and the feet of soldiers - and bearing, now, the light ready feet of the poetess who has called them to her.

"Well have I taught her,

That heroine,

Lithe, agile girl of Gyaros"

Her metre bears the sweetness of a sigh. But her lips now, in the firmness of finality, are set never again to part save in a bird-like cry to greet the torch of the youth that is called death. He shall receive her in his arms without wonder.

The wind alone, Sappho, speaks your thoughts:

I sought, in the reflection of that which was my likeness, my own unconquerable image, the mirror that would make me queen of my own inviolate domain. Beyond assault, I lived in the face of my own beauty, like a river that, springing up in itself, ends in itself and its spring. In the reflection of the shape that was my own I sought the form and the shape of that which is called perfection. Its well-kown contours gave me refuge from pain. No shores are required by the sea that knows only itself. And one wave equals the other. So I found in the sweetness that mirrored my own, my own sweetness, my own compassion, my own secret, my own passion; the comfort of the known. And my dominion was absolute. My garden was unscarred, and I was content to live in the shelter of my self, until in the hidden chambers of my heart there stirred the longing for pain.

And this longing was answered by you whom I hated and loved. Your body spoke of it and enticed me to seek in it my destruction; the destruction of my world and of my dominion over it, the destruction of my peace of heart and of my love of self.

You claimed it and took it of right. You filled this island with the longing for another, with the longing for another kind. Could I not find myself in my own form? What have you been made of and what have you come for? Your grace that ill compares to mine, has unsettled me. What do I find in it? What is it that gives darkness the power to communicate with light? Who gave tension the upper hand over tranquility? Was it comfort that made me seek challenge?

I know nothing, o beloved, but my song and its verse. I know nothing of me or of you save that which you know through me, save that which I know through you. What has my life been before you? O, I forgot, and it is impossible to remember. All my remembrance is illusion and my reminiscenses of freedom are mere tears shed over your absence. I was born on the day I saw you. And this pain alone is my truth.

What have you done to me? Or haven't I surrendered? How then can you turn away? You came and created by destroying. You came and lived in me and your absence is my death. You brought me the gift of that which is beyond reason.

Love gives life and takes life.

Love claims this life too.

But it is of right.

And it is given.

Like a comet, a woman's body plunges from the skies into the sea, and the ocean receives her into the cycle of its waters. The river of life circulates between its two shores, and in its void the beloved abides.

Thus ends the life of Sappho, the greatest poet of her time.

 

(2009)

 


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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 2/7/2009
A fine tribute in poetic prose; thank you for sharing this gift, Mahdi. Love and peace to you,

Regis

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