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January 1, 2006

I vow to write more frequently, and so I shall. I am told it is good to record one’s own story in one’s own private pages. Nancy says that if we entrust only the poets to tell our stories, then we give up our agency. Nancy is very keen on agency, though she gives hers up to me once a week in her sunny office. It is an easy enchantment and I have begun to feel some guilt over my perfidy. Is this progress? After we talk and rise and go to her small, shabby desk we are like actors performing our roles. Nancy is the therapist; I am the mortal woman who pays money for services rendered. It is a funny thing to watch someone under an enchantment. There is always that moment when you imagine they might see through it, the glamour, but in the end it is only an imagined fear on my part: that I will be found out and exposed for who I truly am. Nancy says that fear and desire are two sides of the same coin.

 

January 4, 2006

Late night encounter with a slim youth who declined to take me sexually, preferring to bring me to an eating hall where we gorged on succulent raw fish from the shore. He resisted when I tried pulling him to the soft sand beneath the boardwalk where I’ve made my nightly pallet. The feast sat low in my belly; I was too lethargic to force him to succumb. Instead, we strolled to a darkened theatre.

The young ephebe insisted on bringing me a greasy bag of popped corn. All around us, the mortals gnawed their treats with slackened jaws, as if hoping to break through some invisible threshold. On the screen, a coarse, slight actor in a cowboy hat spoke words that articulated the secret longings of my own tortured soul. I sat there and listened to the collective larval chewing and succumbed to tears so copious they soaked the thin garments that covered my breasts.

It has been nearly a full millennium since our last congress but, like Nancy has said, without closure we become trapped like ants in the amber of our own anguish. I fear the emotion may overtake me once more as I write these very words at the plastic table with the pink umbrella beside the sunglasses market. O, brother! O, lover! O, Zeus!

I, too, wish I could quit you.

 

January 13, 2006

I have become as susceptible to the mortals’ suspicions as they are. As weak. I walk the beach and eye the passing crowd with great fear. I write this from my place beneath the boardwalk, hovered and small and plagued to the point of paralysis with thoughts of how very long this life has become. How lonely and how small. The mortals have no concept that with limitless life comes limitless pain. They are most adept at making their own small existences even smaller. Today is a spooky day. Tomorrow is for pancakes. Anything to distract from what even the strongest of them cannot avoid. Death is a promise, a permission slip. I walk the boardwalk and wonder who among them would be strong enough to switch places with me. Pick me, I want to say. I pluck a coin from the sidewalk and place it in my mouth. I follow the ones who look closest to crossing over. I want them to take me along.

 

February 2, 2006

Nancy has declared that these pages inherit the realm of what she refers to as “suicidal ideations.” We have discontinued our relationship, for which I bear the burden of responsibility.

I was mistaken to think that reading aloud from my last entry would in any way distract her from the fiery rage she summoned upon discovering myself and an apple-sour youth engaged in congress in the hallway outside of her office. It was a cool night and the youth had provided a flask of spirits as strong as the eros that volleyed between our bodies. Nancy’s wails rose and entwined with my own, and for a brief moment it was as if we were one single spirit with three heads and three mighty sets of lungs. But then her voice stood out from our ecstasies in an unpleasant and guttural pattern: I’M CALLING THE COPS I’M CALLING THE COPS I’M CALLING THE FUCKING COPS. This was the essence of Nancy’s oration, to which I was like, Nancy, we get it. Enough, already.

I will continue to write in these pages. The youth is gone already; I will remember him and his proud little buttocks with pleasure and some sadness as well, for as I watched him press his meager load into his canvas sack, I couldn’t help but see the few decades that would roll him stooped and stunted into decrepitude. Why should I be permitted eternal youth while a handsome child like himself remains doomed to the drooling second infancy these mortals tout as the prize for a life well lived?

These are dark questions. I tremble to imagine the answer.

 

February 27, 2006

I do not write, but I am well. O, would that I were well! I am sick with LOVE. A fatal sort of disease! (LOL!)

 

March 20, 2006

black cohosh root

peacock feathers

one red brick, purified with fire

one pomegranate

heart of cow (fresh)

one 6 pack, organic (local?) beer

one large container cow’s milk

one loaf bread (brown, with visible seeds)

 

March 21, 2006

Where to resume? When so little remains the same. I have disposed of my dirty possessions (and habits!) from those inexplicable months along the boardwalk. I have left a trail of trinkets, liquor bottles, steaming cocks, soiled bathing suits, scraps of phone numbers, blue lights red lights, small bills. I nearly doomed these pages to the discretely placed trash can in Bob’s bright, sunny kitchen, but something compelled me to hold the book a while longer. I’ve repaired to the clean and vast surface of the kitchen island. I have pulled up a bar stool. I write.

Bob is at work, the house is still. Dog Zeus lays in a thick beam of sunlight in the living room, his great, grinning mouth chuffing softly in his sleep. He must take the credit for this union, and lo, he moves through each day with an appealing smugness to his golden features, so perhaps he does know that he is responsible for creating warmth and love in the lives of we two, his master, and now, his mistress.

To begin at the beginning. I drank for several days without pause (or pleasure) to blur the sound of Nancy’s screaming in my head. I felt too low to reverse the sick eddies and whirlpools my actions had created between us. I was out to sea and Nancy was on the shore. There would be no more communion between us. The tide that carried me was too strong. Do you get my drift? (LOL! How I struggle to write of these strange and faraway-seeming sorrows while I sit in my warm and welcoming home of love! I will permit myself these little humors. We must laugh to keep from crying.)

I woke that morning alone. My body, satiated and sore, was naïve to whatever liberties had been taken with my flesh. It occurred to me that this was the bottom that Nancy so often spoke of. The rock that I lay my head upon was literally the lowest rock in the deep and lonesome valley I’d made of my everlasting life. It seems so foolish to think of it now, but lo, that morning I lay for many moments listening to the sea slap over and over against the sand and I dreamt a waking dream of bashing my skull against that selfsame rock. I fear I may have played such a game were my reverie not interrupted by the shout of the man I would come to know as Bob.

ZEUS!

I sat up as if struck.

ZEUS!

The man’s voice called over and over again and I gathered myself to stand.

I am familiar with the mortal trope of being struck with feelings of boundless and true love upon one’s first sight of the beloved. This is the story Bob claims for his own experience of our first encounter, and I cannot blame him, nor will I sully his joy with an admission of the truth. The truth is that he was struck by all manner of protective enchantments, the glamours I summoned about my person in anticipation of what I thought was to come. I was at once fearful and excited upon hearing the name of my husband, our father of Gods and men. I was ready to accept my punishment for sniveling in my sour cave, to be claimed again for the first time in centuries. I strode from the boardwalk and commanded the salty air through each tangled strand of my hair. The spellbound breeze scoured stickiness from my inner thighs. I walked towards Bob, towards his ordinary form, and I called to him with all the power of Olympia rushing from my heaving lungs:

Who dares? Who dares to call?! To speak his name!

I went on like this, calling and summoning and generally carrying on. Bob gazed upon me with gentle rapture. He turned back towards the sea, and there I saw the ochre colored dog, large as a child’s bicycle, bounding in and out of the water.

Bob trotted ankle deep into the soft foam where the beast flopped down in surrender. You’re a silly dog, he shouted. You’re a silly, silly Zeus dog!

The creature rolled in dumb pleasure, its belly exposed and white as a petal. I was close enough then to feel the water slide between my toes. I felt a strangeness creeping over me. The true Zeus of all the Hellenes would never submit like this. He simply wasn’t capable. I searched the dog’s glinting slit of an eye, searching for signs of cunning.

Bob murmured some platitudes. He called the animal “boy,” an impertinence I thought would surely reveal Zeus’ true nature. I braced, preparing for the beast’s mount. I assumed the act would be quick, but assuredly brutal.

Nothing more transpired for several moments. I watched the man’s fingers rub furrows through the creature’s thick, yellow fur. It was Bob, not Zeus, who revealed himself in those silent, seaside seconds. We cannot predict the antidote to the poisons that plague us, but here, it seemed, was mine: a pale, kind man bent to the task of pleasing a lower brute.

He stroked the animal until it could take no more, and then the dog shook sea from its coat. The man stood and gazed into my face.

Bob, he said, and held his hand towards mine.

I accepted his fingers and imagined taking that delicate network of tendons and veins and bones between my teeth. But instead I told him my name. My true name. And he laughed a loud and merry sound and looked at me as if to say, You’re kidding, right? and I looked right back as if to say I will follow you anywhere you want to go.

 

April 12, 2006

It is true, I tire more quickly now. I remember less of what came before. With only the space of several weeks between then and now, I cannot even rightly recall the words I spoke aloud. The ceremony was brief, attended only by myself and Dog Zeus in the fenced backyard of Bob’s condo while he was gone to his students in his classroom near Soquel Cove.

I gathered the items in the grass. I made a circle with the crushed red brick. A white-crowned sparrow served as the sacrifice, and this excited Dog Zeus into barking. The ease with which I relinquished my divinity surprised me. It was gentle, a soft shifting.

I believe now that mortality has much to do with intention. If I intend to love this man until death does us part, then I am willing to part with this part of me. Let it not be me, I say to the heavens each night. Let me not be the one who is left behind.

 

April 27, 2006

When Bob tires from grading papers he writes poems. They are humble, spare lines, but he reads them aloud to me and relishes every word. He tells stories of the world he sees. I am charmed by his innocence. I am grateful that he is moved by the graceful lines of the French press, by the chaotic flurry of the sparrows in the yard. He is moved as well by my own softening form. I curse the thickening of my thighs, but Bob chides me in our marital bed and kisses me with greater fervor.

 

May 13, 2006

Long walk along the beach. Ice cream cones. Sunset.

This life is not without its regrets. White, wiry strands in the morning mirror. And nights like these when I cannot sleep. When I do not seem to know my own mind.

I am happy. I love. My body, like all mortal bodies, will perish one day, and rot.

I imagine death as a physical presence, swirling blackly in the pit of my gut. I sit quietly and breathe. I imagine death as an angry thing waiting to be released. I write and stare at Bob’s still form, the tide of his ribs beneath the sheet.

 

September 25, 2006

I have enrolled in a certification course. Ultrasound Tech.

I have less need to write. I talk instead with my fellow students. I apply myself and hope to secure employment.

I do not say it aloud, but my gifts linger. I point to the small penis and proclaim the sex of the child with the rest of the students, but I can also tell when death is imminent. When the child is unwell. The difference is that I can no longer affect the outcome, and for this injustice I have wept awhile in the solitude of the afternoon.

I want to tell anyone who will listen: I was wrong. The world of mortal emotions is larger than the Gods know, larger than should be reasonably allowed. I weep not for myself, but for those mothers, those women who I do not even know! Is this progress towards being a more empathetic self? Or am I simply shedding another symptom of immortality? All I know is that I am newly, freshly—constantly!— moved by the experiences of others, by the vast uncharted worlds contained in each one of us stuck swirling upon this earth.

I weep when Bob and I sit on the couch and the advertisement for the hungry children comes on TV. I scream with laughter when Dog Zeus twists to lick his own sex. I cry out in surprise when I place a salty piece of kibble in my mouth to better understand Dog Zeus and his desires. I, too, contain worlds that no mortal life would permit time to explore.

And yet.

This finite world. This seemingly unbounded emotional landscape.

We persevere, despite perseverance sharing the face of pure madness. And so I will, too. Go on bravely with my soul held aloft like a small, sweet egg. Warm and winking wetly in the dawn.