"The Shepherdess," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873, WikiArt photo.
“The Shepherdess,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1873, WikiArt photo.

Part 7: Shepherdess Returns Home

Blessings conferred in ceremony by Dolius,
And gods, Rhete’s mind stretched beyond
Thracian plains and spruce-clothed mountain
Peaks, she bid farewell to her mentor and to
Temple artisans. With Ekho at her side, Rhete
Returned to family not as prophetess but as
Faithful daughter-shepherdess, months of
Absence, learning languages, studying sacred
Scripture, but as few days to her parents,
Searches made, two needles loom-lost.

Mother’s kiss washing tears away, Rhete
Offered no explanation other than resting at
Sunlit streams, secluded forest depths. To
Her flocks she returned, familiar flowered
Meadows, Rhete found solace amongst melodic
Ringing of sheep bells. Time disconnected,
She offered prayers and incantations to Divine.
Vaporous light gathered amongst her sheep,
Two words spoken aloud: “Receive them,”
Nearby shepherd clans with sick, infirm.

What wonders woman’s soul can perform?
Proffering love to vexed hearts, consoling
Those lost in despair, fetid breath, maligned
Flesh and bone, in grief tearing at hair. Advice
From Dolius and Divine Light, they will come,
Gradually and gratefully. O! Rhete, burdened-
Destiny upon one so young, living holy shrine,
Destiny as wandering prophetess, following
Voices borne upon deific mist, ministering to
Those in need, light of heaven in your eyes.

"By the Wayside," John William Godward, 1912, WikiArt.
“By the Wayside,” John William Godward, 1912, WikiArt.

Gathering flower petals and forest herbs,
Rhete distilled medicines as temple taught,
Healing balms, all things required growing
Round her feet. Wind-waving spruces lofting
Heavenly refrains, beckoned weary and sick.
Vows made before Dolius and ethereal deities,
Rhete received pilgrims on wooded heights,
With each sore bandaged, comfort given by
Willow-bark teas, as holy sister wiping away
Tears, consoling prayers, prophetess arose.

Written whilst listening to “The Garden” by Dan Romer,
original movie soundtrack for “Sleepwalking in the Rift.”

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