“Sleeping Peasant,” Zinaida Serebriakova, 1917, WikiArt.

Part 3: Wanderers we Became

First argument in night darkness, tossing
Upon pallet bed, plurality of conflicting
Voices within our head, essence of divine
Althea in opposition to me, Aeriel, mother’s
Patience, differing wisdom, so worsened by
Body of newly bleeding adolescent female,
Facts of life, for which immortal one was
Unprepared, leaving me to attend. “I am
Goddess,” she announced, annoyed by
Curse of mortal women. “We shall use it
As excuse for your outbursts,” I advised.
In time all will be forgiven, forgotten.”

“Since the beginning, universe follows
Single plan based on divine truth, river
Upon which all things flow,” Althea began,
Loud lecturing in my mind. “There is one
Way things are to be, myriad ways they
Are not. Conflict thus began, unraveling
Divine plans, mortals misinterpreting,
Twisting, in innocence, by accident, or by
Devious design.” In silence I listened,
Hoping she would tire from deific tirade,
Her teenage body hormone flushed, her
Mind cloud-spiraling as we conversed.

O! Althea, reason versus unreasonable,
Two coin-sides exist in same plane, for
World is fraught with imperfections,
Challenges mortals face from birth, first
Crying breath, breaking of mother’s
Womb water, bizarre-wondrous world
Awaits, of this we sing and dance, our
Voices, fleeting footsteps enacted on life’s
Stage. From immortal heights, Althea, you
Left ethereal fire-flame to earthly life,
Chain-bound in strife, joys and grief, by
These, each soul understanding gains.

Althea held fast to eternal truth, time-
Flowing river, immortals unbound to
Sinewed bone, life and death. Glimpsed
Within her mind, single breath existed
Tween earth’s creation and its end, both
Expressed in crucible of fiery light, Epochs
Beginning and ending. Lo! Unexpected
Occurred, never returning to temple steps,
Wanderers we became, like lost souls I
Witnessed in death, thus we were in life.
Have we not seen these wanderers before,
Seemingly unfettered with life’s burdens?

“Wanderer,” Vasily Perov, 1870, WikiArt.

Alas! What burdens did they share alone?
Solitude of countryside, edge of fields and
Farms, stranger found next morning asleep
In haystacks, amongst olive groves, accepting
Charity of food, blanket, roof on rain-filled
Nights. Yes, I had helped as many as I turned
Away. Now in guilt-retrospect, I realized
They might have been – No! All were touched
As Althea and I, immortals in human form.
Ironies of life, one of them I had become,
Shared passenger, friend, as we slipped into
Forest depths, our village disappeared.

Epic wanderers, such as Odysseus, are archetypes of classical Greek literature,
whether they leave family and comrades in alienation or are on soul-searching
or testing quest. For what reason or purpose do you think Aeriel-Althea have
become wanderers? Escape or for some higher purpose? Thanks for reading.


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