Part 6: Ilithya’s Ancient Herald
Below painted terraces, sacred crypts held
Skeletons of past oracles. Dark passages
Descending, in solitude and silence, Dolius
Led Ilithya to chamber-bearing bones, bodies
Mummified, death shrouds thread-bare, burial
Gifts age-tarnished, rust-pitted swords and
Shields. At oldest of temple oracles they
Knelt, bones crumbled fragments hundred
Decades old. “Of these, I carry their souls,”
Dolius offered, venerable ones first guiding
Farmers, fishers, wandering shepherd clans.
By artistry we know them, Cycladic peoples,
Ancient islanders, marble idol sculptures,
Based on memories faded and forgotten.
Enormity of time overwhelming Ilithya, one
Question asked, “Will I see my family again?”
Dolius looked upon her liquid eyes, waving
Dark hair, strained yet delicate bow lip.
“No. All that you love is time-lost, such are
Temporal terrace walls. Within this citadel,
As holy oracle you serve, one of legions,
Perhaps last.” That which seas had covered
Now uncovered. Amongst tide-suspended
Fluted columns, Ilithya had no life beyond
Perfume-scented pools, mind Apollo-touched,
First pilgrims awaiting oracular guidance,
Her past and future veiled, expressionless
As Cycladic marble statues.
Throes of grief and uncertainty, Ilithya saw time
As rivers ever forcing seaward, as broad-wingéd
Seabird, above rivers sailed she, rock-resting,
Sailing boats, fisher family greeting, searching
For life’s answers. Single ancient sculpture she
Made her herald, earth mother wrested from
Burial crypts. Ilithya led Dolius to her sanctuary,
Her place at tiger-skin draped marble throne,
First of many prayerful supplicants temple steps
Arrived, Dolius as her intermediary, questions
Asked, responses offered, for they were caught
In life’s flood, infirmities of disease and age,
Heaviness of heart, fate’s uncertainties, all
These, as sacred oracle, Ilithya rose above.
For more on Cycladic Culture and examples of
period sculpture and artistry, see this link: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ecyc/hd_ecyc.htm
Yes, there is Part 7, perhaps 10 parts total.