Wednesday, 28 August 2013


                                                                     (For John)

mar   (mär)

tr.v. marred, mar·ring, mars
1. To inflict damage, especially disfiguring damage, on.
2. To impair the soundness, perfection, or integrity of; spoil.
A disfiguring mark; a blemish.
[Middle English merren, from Old English mierran, merran, to impede.]


amb. Masa de agua salada que cubre gran parte de la superficie terrestre:
nadar en el mar;
los pescadores se hicieron a la mar.
Abundancia de algo:
mar de dudas.
a mares loc. adv. En gran cantidad:
está lloviendo a mares.
la mar de loc. adv. Mucho:
es una casa la mar de bonita.

The breeze tugged absently at the linen wrapped around her shoulders, a flowing slash of red in the dark navy night. She pulled tighter with jewelled fingers, her feet gliding across the cobbles with intent and purpose, but always with grace. 

She pulled at the gate and greeted the guard with his flame-licked torch, who waved at the guard in the tower some distance away. The orange glow waved back, and the guard turned his head at her. She gave him a half-hearted smile and touched his arm slightly, before gripping at her shawl and disappearing into the night. 

At the bottom of a small set of steps she removed her sandals, and left them there. She looked up at the sky beating with stars, tiny blurs of memory, a million gods' eyes bearing down on a world where her sole existence was her longing. She looked at the outline of the closest towers to her, burning watchfully at the top of their turrets, all along the coast. She noted the irony that the hope for the men in the towers was to not see a ship approach, and her greatest hope was to see one. 

Her feet were grasped by sand now, the journey slower. The more she hurried, the more she sank into the earth. Her anklets chimed with her paces, and the rings on her toes would probably be lost to the beach. The open-mouthed water-filled lungs of the sea breathed at her, the brine on her face, the salt on her lips, her destination teased her. 

She thought back to her rooms this evening, where after a dinner with her stomach tied up in knots she had managed some pleasant conversation and a few mouthfuls for the sake of appearance, until the opportunity of rushing back to sanctuary, her handmaidens a billow of silk behind her. 

Large wooden doors closed with a stated thump behind her, they began to work on this ritual that had taken up every evening for the past few moon cycles. Tonight was a sliver, darker than most and like every other night they begged her not to go, that she would be lost to the sea or a vagrant. She had every argument covered until it had exhausted her, she had now taken to not even replying. They knew to do her bidding, but the tears in their eyes remained, torn between duty and love for their mistress. 

Stripped of her formal attire, she had been bathed in warm goat's milk, wisps of burning sage wrapped around her while she looked up at the sky through the star-shaped openings in the ceiling. She thought about what life wanted for her, what she was enduring and how she could appease the divine. Goats had been slaughtered, food had been offered. She had covered her face in ash and wailed until she collapsed. Now there was this, and the thing that had endured the most. She would wait for him at the shore. 

She closed her eyes in the bath while two girls attended to her hair, packing it tightly with rhasool mud, and cleaning it out with warm fragrant rosewater. Tightening the thick black braids with a polish of argan, threading through small ringlets of gold, and to the forehead drops of honey. They took her out of the milk and rubbed her skin dry with cotton, massaging olive oil into her, skin like deep sunsets. 

They attended to her eyes with thick kohl, her lips brought to life with crushed powders married to water. Her cheeks beheld the dignity of her station, but her eyes betrayed her always on these nights, dark pools of want from which there was no hope of rescue but the promise of a man returned. 

Gold and jewels on each finger and toe, precious wealth on her wrists and ankles. One of her handmaidens felt almost obliged to tell her she looked like she was ready to greet a king, and then realised that is exactly what she was doing. 

The dress was white, with linings of gold thread, a fantasy of layered cotton she had worn every night for countless nights, that she had worn on the day he had left her at the shore and she would wear every night until it fell apart. Finally, around her arms the scarlet bronzed wrap of linen he had presented her with the night before he had set sail, the greatest treasure in her land. Everything else could burn to ruin, she would fight for the sanctity of his last gift. Every night she slept with it, refused to let it be washed for fear of being damaged, scented it lightly with the smell of him, lime and pepper, lavender and sandalwood. 

Every night this walk outside the palace, to the beach beyond the gate and the people who looked at her with pity and awe. Deep down, there was something else to this nightly pilgrimage, an escape from those who thinking themselves sensitive told her how brave she was, or asked her how she was, who condescended to her emotion like they knew he felt. Nobody knew, and that was a selfish emotion evoked in her, but that was the state of her grief.

The sand was wetter now, the waves between her toes like water gods gasping for tribute. She thought the major concern for others was that she might give herself to the sea. That she somehow knew he had done the same, but she knew he hadn't. The day he died she would also, she would be walking along a courtyard and she would simply drop dead. That was the way it worked, two threads entwined into each other so essentially there was no way of seeing the join.

She knew that if he was to come it would not be to this deserted private beach, but to harbour. There was no logic in waiting for him in the clothes she had worn the day he left, other than to satisfy her own deep longing. In this way, she felt he would recognise her, had she somehow changed in these months of his departure. 

She thought of him not on a ship making his way back to her, but on the crest of a wave. Triumphant in battle, upon a white horse to seek his beloved. she dared not think him weary or damaged, it would not do to be witness to his suffering. She thought of him at his best, skin sleek liquid embers, arms strong in their holding. His eyes were the entirety of the universe in its being gazing back at her like nothing was ever to be spoken again.

She sat on the beach, braving adversity of temperature. She threw a flower at the water, a small form of pink in tribute to the deep obsidian she felt so jealous of. The water had seen him, as it travelled across the distance to where he might lay sleeping. If she could only dip her fingers in and become one with the sea, she could feel beyond the shadow of his place in the world and although not together the unknowing would make the scar upon her chest a little less expansive. 

She sat until sunrise, worn in shield of burgundy to see the day break across the water's edge, like it had swum in ocean depth and arose to dry. Stumbling home to a bed that consumed her in it's emptiness of one, finally too tired to think.  

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