“Head of Old Woman,” Konstantin Makovsky, circa 1890, WikiArt.

Part 2: Ixia’s Gift of Revelation

Crypt fires long extinguished, pyramidal tomb,
Foundations sinking, fronted with empty stone
Seat, ancient god, once man living, to aether
Had returned, sacred bones, skin mummified,
Committed to darkness, save one small barred
Window, kindness of human hearts, even dead
Benefit of air and daylight. Thus were my visions.
For decades untold, divine presence returned,
Thoughts flame-flickering from potter’s lamp,
Touching mind and ears, I had no preparation,
Until beckoned by high priestess, Æëtia.

When addressing Æëtia, one never spoke her
Name aloud, nor looked at her directly, eyes
Fixed on mosaic floor tiles, in whispers they
Conveyed, lest offending voices echoed from
Marble columns and walls. To my knees, then
Prostrate on cold floor, “Holy Mother, you
Beckoned me, Ixia in your debt.” Aged legs
Shuffled to me, “Rise and listen. As water is
Contrary to fire, earth from airy heights, gift
Of revelation I give to thee, for we do not know
Whose ancient voices from tomb you bear.

Alas! Fingers pressing into scalp, Æëtia gripped
My head with both hands, she brought her
Mouth to mine, not in embrace, but in holy
Ritual, foreheads touching, breathing into me
Until in unison we respired, and in doing so,
I swooned, marble floor collapsed. In those
Moments, we knew each other, flowing life
Auras, I awakened on her couch, transformed.
Lo! Ancient voices ceased, wonderment per-
Plexed, by divinity I had been blessed, gift-
Girded for impending odyssey, maiden upon
Her journey of ten-thousand footsteps.

“Dancing Mænad,” Sosibios Vase, Louvere, Wikimedia Commons.

Yet, at Æëtia’s side, my tutorship was not
Complete. “Press both hands upon marble
Urn as I did you, “Æëtia said. Anxious,
Whilst doing so, I aloud stated: ‘Reveal!”
By magic might, into cloud-borne flesh,
Mænad materialized, pastoral girl from
Distant shores. My sister she could be.
“I am Lenara, worshiper of Dionysus,
Sculpted by Sosibios.” Her surroundings
Unaware, Lenara searched my face, turning
To Æëtia, by gaze of dark eyes, Lenara
Froze in place, re-solidified on marble urn.

As much fantasy as historical fiction, this poem contains reference to Greek sculptor, Sosibios. Of note, Sosibios was the neo-Attic Athenian sculptor who crafted the Pentelic marble vase in Keats’ poem “Ode on the Grecian Urn,” where Keats asks questions of the time-frozen figures found thereon. Perhaps this is foreshadowing.
For more, see this link: http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/volute-krater

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