"Algerian Woman," Camille Corot, 1873, WikiArt.
“Algerian Woman,” Camille Corot, 1873, WikiArt.

Part 3: Blade and Coals

From her breast poured lyrical song, Erenay,
Moon Mystic, healer of desert-roaming tribes,
Oasis resting with camel caravans. Injured
And infirmed, they sought her, to touch her
Wind-flowing robes, prophetess appeared on
Foot, by rippling sands, soul and heart prayer
Purified. O! Hopeless bleeding wounds, life
And death in fated balance, beyond herbs
And salves, by her hands, Erenay wielded
The divine: healing blade and fiery coals.

To sun she raised gleaming blade, thrust in
Burning coals, infected flesh, festering evil
Screamed aloud, venomous blood purged by
Prayerful chants. All present raised voices
Heavenward, “Darkness be vanished.” First
Quivering limbs, gasping breath returned,
Death-lost reborn, divine light they recalled,
Realm of merciful forgiveness, chance to live
Again, ushered by heavenly chorus, deific
Fires burned within, praising ancient prophet.

Lo! Ever-present prophet, Erenay accepted
Such infirmities and disease, sacrifice to
Others, never more than gods permitted her
To bare, unless she pleaded on bended knee,
Saving mother in childbirth, two lives lost
Death spiral. Again, she took to fiery blade,
Erenay’s hands upon writhing womb, she so
Chanted, “Spring of mercy save us! Darkness
Entwines body and soul,” Cuts made across
Mother’s abdomen. Alas! New son rising from
Maternal sack, separated from entangled cord.

"Hagar in the Wilderness," Camille Corot, 1835, WikiArt.
“Hagar in the Wilderness,” Camille Corot, 1835, WikiArt.

Solitude of stones and sky, Erenay took to high
Desert sanctuary, mixed with nothing or no one,
Eating figs and dates, she prayed and slept to
Moving music of sheep bells. Except for wind-
Flickering flame, dark-robed Erenay blended
Into evening shade and shadow, virtues of
Invisibility. Present in body, but not in mind,
With ancient desert gods, Erenay’s heart revolved,
Planets and stars, her soul ascended to their high
Sanctuary, from her breast poured lyrical song.

“In the desert a fountain is springing, in the wide waste
there still is a tree, and a bird in the solitude singing,
which speaks to my spirit of thee.”
— “Stanzas to Augusta,” Lord Byron

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