“Debate of Socrates and Aspasia,” Nicolas-Andre Monsiau, c. 1800, Wikimedia photo,.

Part 3: Lessons Lived and Learnt (Last)

Worshipers on temple steps, we sought wisdom
Of clay tablets, origins of perfection, inscriptions,
Island life temptations. lamentable shortcomings.
Interpretations, reflections we shared, facets of
Light-gathering gems, consideration to others,
Alms, praising immortal gods. Hovering presence,
Astarte’s golden light shown upon us. As priestess,
Through me, Astarte spoke aloud: “Ways of deific
Stars, if Kerkryans seek earthly perfection, they
Must change their hearts, learn wisdom of clay
Tablets.” O! Goddess bright, sacred-island ties,
We understood, agreed, offerings of first fruits,
Daily lives devoted to family, labours, prayers.

Absence of Astarte’s light, darkness encroached
Island shores, bickering began between ocean
And mountain clans, selfish claims to tablet
Wisdom, guiding knowledge inscribed thereon.
Now faded memories, how quarrels began,
Escalated to arguments, stone throwing, fires
Set to wheat fields, island harvests destroyed.
Worshipers seeking temple shelter asked, “To
Whom do clay tablets belong?” “They belong
To everyone and to no one,” I, Cosimia, replied.
They are inscriptions of the gods,” answers
Falling on deaf ears as Kerkrya fell into riot,
Senseless fighting in name of Astarte, idyllic
Island perfection beyond hope abandoned.

Of dozen on temple steps seeking truth of
Gods and peace, to radiant island, Kerkrya
Transformed, deific heights above warring
Scorpions, killing in name of gods, blood
Rites, burnt offerings, animal sacrifice.
Fishers’ sailing boats, fields of golden grains
Returned to idyllic shores, Astarte’s devout
Followers entrusted with three tablets, bundle-
Bound, to safety, sanctity of Greek isles we
Sailed, cerulean seas neath billowing clouds.
Was this real or imagined, we knew not,
Except behind us, mountains burned, black
Smoke tendrils reaching harbours, extending
Into bays, wind dispersed darkening beast.

“Portion of Eastern Portico,” David Roberts, WikiArt photo.

Was our island home burnt, drowned, lost to
Killing? These concerns were not our, yet we
Still grieved for deaths, destruction never
God-permitted, not by Astarte. Yet, new lives,
Future lay ahead, thirty-six tablets, different
Isles, stone niche enclosed, guidance to those
Who found them, fishers, farmers, shepherds,
Or mountain-path wandering girl. Lustration
of light, time unhinged, Mother and I, Cosimia,
To our home village returned, one tablet in our
Possession, inscriptions understood: “Wisdom
Enters not malevolent soul, nor dwells in body
Bent on evils, sins.” Such lessons lived and
Learnt as priestess of Kerkyra.

Thanks for reading.

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