فصل 27

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فصل 27

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
  • سطح متوسط

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Chapter Twenty-seven THE FROGS HAD GONE to their wallows; the salamanders slept in brown holes. The pool showed the moon’s half-face, the pinpoints of stars, and all around, bending near, the wavering trees. I knelt on the bank, thick with grass. Before me was the old bronze bowl I had used for my magics since the very first. The flowers rested beside me in their pale root swaddles. Stem by stem, I cut them and squeezed out the drops of running sap. The bottom of the bowl grew dark. It too began to show the moon. The last flower I did not squeeze but planted there on the shore, where the sun fell every morning. Perhaps it would grow. I could feel the fear in myself, gleaming like water. These flowers had made Scylla a monster, though all she had done was sneer. Glaucos had become a monster of sorts too, everything that was kind in him driven out by godhead. I remembered my old terror, from Telegonus’ birth: what creature waits within me? My imagination conjured up horrors. I would sprout slimy heads and yellow teeth. I would stalk down to the hollow and savage Telemachus to pieces. But perhaps, I told myself, it would not be like that. Perhaps all I hoped would come to pass, and Telemachus and I would go to Egypt indeed, and all those other places. We would cross and recross the seas, living on my witchcraft and his carpentry, and when we came to a town a second time, the people would step out of their houses to greet us. He would patch their ships, and I would cast charms against biting flies and fevers, and we would take pleasure in the simple mending of the world. The vision blossomed, vivid as the cool grass beneath me, as the black sky over my head. We would visit the Lion Gate of Mycenae, where Agamemnon’s heirs ruled, and the walls of Troy, their stones chilled by winds from ice-peaked Ida. We would ride elephants and walk in the desert night beneath the eyes of gods who had never heard of Titans or Olympians, who took no more notice of us than they did of the sand beetles toiling at our feet. He would say to me that he wanted children, and I would say, “You do not know what you are asking of me,” and he would say, “This time you are not alone.” We have a daughter, and then another. Penelope attends my birthing bed. There is pain, but it passes. We live on the island when the children are young and visit often after. She weaves and casts spells while nymphs glide around her. However gray she gets she never seems to tire, but sometimes I see her eyes turn to the horizon where the house of the dead and its souls wait. The daughters I dream to life are different from Telegonus, and different from each other. One chases the lions in circles, while the other sits in a corner, watching and remembering everything. We are wild with our love for them, standing over their sleeping faces, whispering about what she said today, what she did. We bring them to meet Telegonus, throned among his golden orchards. He leaps from his couch to embrace us all and introduces us to his captain of the guard, a tall, dark-haired youth who never leaves his side. He is not married yet, he may not ever be, he says. I smile, imagining Athena’s frustration. So polite he is, yet firm and immovable as one of his own city walls. I do not worry for him. 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 at 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. One day, Hermes will lead me down to the halls of the dead. We will scarcely recognize each other, for I will be white-haired, and he will be wrapped in his mystery as Leader of Souls, the only time he is solemn. I think I will enjoy seeing that. I know how lucky I am, stupid with luck, crammed with it, stumbling drunk. I wake sometimes in the dark terrified by my life’s precariousness, its thready breath. Beside me, my husband’s pulse beats at his throat; in their beds, my children’s skin shows every faintest scratch. A breeze would blow them over, and the world is filled with more than breezes: diseases and disasters, monsters and pain in a thousand variations. I do not forget either my father and his kind hanging over us, bright and sharp as swords, aimed at our tearing flesh. If they do not fall on us in spite and malice, then they will fall by accident or whim. My breath fights in my throat. How can I live on beneath such a burden of doom? I rise then and go to my herbs. I create something, I transform something. My witchcraft is as strong as ever, stronger. This too is good fortune. How many have such power and leisure and defense as I do? Telemachus comes from our bed to find me. He sits with me in the green-smelling darkness, holding my hand. Our faces are both lined now, marked with our years. Circe, he says, it will be all right. It is not the saying of an oracle or a prophet. They are words you might speak to a child. I have heard him say them to our daughters, when he rocked them back to sleep from a nightmare, when he dressed their small cuts, soothed whatever stung. His skin is familiar as my own beneath my fingers. I listen to his breath, warm upon the night air, and somehow I am comforted. 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.

Overhead the constellations dip and wheel. My divinity shines in me like the last rays of the sun before they drown in the sea. 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. 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.

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