But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.
Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.
It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.
I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.
Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive.
But perhaps no parent can truly see their child. When we look we see only the mirror of our own faults.
That is one thing gods and mortals share. When we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.
The thought was this: that all my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.
I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open.
You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see.
He was another knife I could feel it. A different sort, but a knife still. I did not care. I thought: give me the blade. Some things are worth spilling blood for.
I had been old and stern for so long, carved with regrets and years like a monolith. But that was only a shape I had been poured into. I did not have to keep it.
We are sorry, we are sorry. Sorry you were caught, I said. Sorry that you thought I was weak, but you were wrong.
I asked her how she did it once, how she understood the world so clearly. She told me that it was a matter of keeping very still and showing no emotions, leaving room for others to reveal themselves.
It was my first lesson. Beneath the smooth, familiar face of things is another that waits to tear the world in two.
Circe, he says, it will be all right. It is not the saying of an oracle or a prophet. ... He does not mean that it does not hurt. He does not mean that we are not frightened. Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what is means to be alive.
But of course I could not die. I would live on, through each scalding moment to the next. This is the grief that makes our kind choose to be stones and trees rather than flesh.
He liked the way the obsidian reflected his light, the way its slick surfaces caught fire as he passed. Of course, he did not consider how black it would be when he was gone. My father has never been able to imagine the world without himself in it.
I had no right to claim him, I know it. But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.
Then I learned that I could bend the world to my will, as a bow is bent for an arrow. I would have done that toil a thousand times to keep such power in my hands.
I felt the currents move. The grains of sand whispered against each other. His wings were lifting. The darkness around us shimmered with clouds of his gilded blood. Beneath my feet were the bones of a thousand years. I thought: I cannot bear this world a moment longer. Then, child, make another.
Every moment mortals died, by shipwreck and sword, by wild beasts and wild men, by illness, neglect, and age. It was their fate, Prometheus had told me, the story they all shared. No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke. Meanwhile every petty and useless god would go on sucking down the bright air until the stars went dark.
All my life I have been moving forward, and now I am here. I have a mortal’s voice, let me have the rest. I lift the brimming bowl to my lips and drink.
I have walked in the blackest deeps. You cannot guess what spells I have cast, what poisons I have gathered to protect myself against you, how your power may rebound upon your head. Who knows what is in me? Will you find out?.
Let me say what sorcery is not: it is not divine power, which comes with a thought and a blink. It must be made and worked, planned and searched out, dug up, dried, chopped and ground, cooked, spoken over, and sung. Even after all that, it can fail, as gods do not.
that even after all this time, you still believe you should be rewarded, just because you have been obedient. I thought you would have learned that lesson in our father’s halls. None shrank and simpered as you did, and yet great Helios stepped on you all the faster, because you were already crouched at his feet.
You have always been the worst of my children," he said. "Be sure not to dishonor me." "I have a better idea. I will do as I please, and when you count your children, leave me out.
I have aged. When I look in my polished bronze mirror, there are lines upon my face. I am thickened too and my skin has begun growing loose. I cut myself with my herbs and the scars stay. Sometimes I like it. Sometimes I am vain and dissatisfied. But I do not wish myself back. Of course my flesh reaches for the earth. That is where it belongs.
When he was gone, would I be like Achilles, wailing over his lost lover Patroclus? I tried to picture myself running up and down the beaches, tearing at my hair, cradling some scrap of old tunic he had left behind. Crying out for the loss of half my soul. I could not see it. That knowledge brought its own sort of pain.
Of all the mortals on the earth, there are only a few the gods will ever hear of. Consider the practicalities. By the time we learn their names, they are dead. They must be meteors indeed to catch our attention. The merely good: you are dust to us.
she always has a place. She may have all the glory her teeth can snatch. She will not be loved for it, but she will not be constrained either. So whatever foolish sorrow you harbor, forget it. I think it may be said that you improved her.
I remembered what Odysseus had said about her once. That she never went astray, never made an error. I had been jealous then. Now I thought: what a burden. What an ugly weight upon your back.
Sweet son," I said "you are right, this world is a wild and terrible place, and worth shouting at. But you are safe now, and all of us need to sleep. Will you let us have a little peace?.
Ariadne’s light feet crossed and recrossed the circle. Every step was perfect, like a gift she gave herself, and she smiled, receiving it. I wanted to seize her by the shoulders. Whatever you do, I wanted to say, do not be too happy. It will bring down fire on your head. I said nothing, and let her dance.
He does not mean that it does not hurt. He does not mean that we are not frightened. Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive.
Little by little I began to listen better: to the sap moving in the plants, to the blood in my veins. I learned to understand my own intention, to prune and to add, to feel where the power gathered and speak the right words to draw it to its height. That was the moment I lived for, when it all came clear at last and the spell could sing with its pure note, for me and me alone.
Later, years later, I would hear a song made of our meeting. [...] I was not surprised by the portrait of myself: the proud witch undone before the hero's sword, kneeling and begging for mercy. Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.
Amusement flashed in his eyes. I had fed off that look once, when I had been starving and thought such crumbs a feast.
I wished Odysseus were there so I could ask him: but how did the king get that man to help him, the one who had struck him so deep? The answer that came to me was from a different tale. Long ago, in my wide bed, I had asked Odysseus: "What did you do? When you could not make Achilles and Agamemnon listen?" He'd smiled in the firelight. "That is easy. You make a plan in which they do not.
I would not be able to bear it, I thought. I would seize him, hold him to me. But I only embraced him a final time, pressing hard as if to set him into my skin. Then I watched him take his place among them, stand upon the prow, outlined against the sky. The light darted silver from the waves. I lifted my hand in blessing and gave my son to the world.
Death’s Brother is the name that poets give to sleep. For most men those dark hours are a reminder of the stillness that waits at the end of days.
It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.
Imagine such a happiness. Like drinking wine your whole life, instead of water. Like having Achilles to run your errands.
I had no right to claim him, I knew it. But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation he was to me.
That is what exile meant: no one was coming, no one ever would. There was fear in that knowledge, but after my long night of terrors it felt small and inconsequential. The worst of my cowardice had been sweated out. In its place was a giddy spark. I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.