“Forest from the Mountain,” Ivan Shishkin, 1895, WikiArt.

Part 5: Larcen, Keeper of Time

Next morning we awakened, Menrva-gifted
Etruscan banquet vanished, save terracotta
Bowl, honeyed bread and fruit, breakfast for
Coming odyssey. Images on dark pitcher we
Discerned, two women greeting elder-man,
Prophet we believed. Water-bearer Cosimia
Became, her pitcher filled for drinking, laves
Before evening prayers, obedience to Menrva.
Alas! Again we trekked north, sun sky-rising,
We believed these few days, all round us real,
As trail led us into rocky hillside wood, open
Glade, stone altar, holy place for mid-day
Meals, prayers to Menrva, no sign of promised
Guide, prompting my third question.

“Thania we have walked for days, food eaten,
Entered forests dark, no sign of guide for this
Odyssey,” I stated into misty face of bronze
Mirror, image of priestess appearing. “Faith
You must have, Iliona,” Thania responded
Before third question asked. “When and how
Will we recognize him?” I asked. “Follow path
Given, two sunrises hence, rustic rituals,
Threshing in wheat fields, two companion
Females on your water pitcher.” Thania
Mirror-dissolved, final thoughts chastising,
Answer on dark pitcher, third question
Wasted, last bread eaten, Cosimia desiring
Food, pitcher filling, clear spring waters.

“Mother, in obedience to Menrva, we have
Followed this winding path, equally obliged
By faith, no recourse, ocean leaving, desolate
Forest entering, no birds, no life sounds but
Us.” Evening orchard we discovered, our fill
Of fruit and figs, amongst soul-soothing
Ferns, meandering stream we rested, bathed,
And prayed to goddess. Next morning, two
Sun-rises, rolling farmland we encountered,
Golden wheat fields wind-waving. Sights in
Confusing distance, man whipping two
Women upon their buttocks, Thania’s words
Remembered, “rustic rituals, threshing in
Wheat fields,” Etruscan female fertility rites.

“Harvest Festival…” Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1880, WikiArt.

“You are in time!” elder-man welcomed us,
Small whip in hand. “In time?” I recoiled,
Repulsed by whipping women. “In time,
You are so welcomed,” he repeated, hands
Bowl-cupped. “You are in time, Larcen my
Name, Keeper of Time.” Are you real?” asked
Cosimia. “I am as real as you, as all you see
And touch. Old prick on your finger, taste
Blood if you will.” Cosimia did so, tasteless
Colour finger-oozing. Thunderclap realization,
Nothing was real including us, our bodies,
Wind upon our face, forest silent-muted,
O! Hopeless toils. Larcen messenger of woe,
Lost realm thrust, earth below, clouds above.

What does blood without taste and silent-muted forest represent?
Thanks for reading. 

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