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Circe’s lament

July 6, 2012

When Ulysses left, Circe could not understand: “Ulysses, how could a man’s heart be so dark, and allow a woman to love him, enchant him, bathe him in rainwater every morning, gather fruits for his lazy afternoon, caress his body with her hands, her feet, her breasts, thread clothes for him with roots and fibres, dream with him, and then, all  of a sudden, for the man to break the link of a chain carefully knitted? How can a man be so cruel that would choose friends and army companions over the soft soul of a woman?” And, sitting in the middle of her outdoor kitchen, between the trays that she used to serve him with, between the cauldrons that she used to bathe him in and between the jars of ointment that she used to cure him with, Circe dropped to her knees and cried.

Whipping her tears, she broke the turquoise and gold necklace that laid on her breasts, tore the yellow silk dress she was wearing, threw away her emerald dangling earring and the colourful bangles adorning her hands and her feet. Naked and pure she remained motionless for a while on the outdoor kitchen floor, feeling the coolness of the stones, watching the clouds flying above her and imagining Ulysses and his shipmates riding the waves, away from her, far, far, far away but again, most hurtful, away from her.

She remembered the days when Ulysses would call her, just to fly high on the consonants of her name: Circe! Circe! Circe!. And Circe would soar like a dove to his lament. “Why did he go?” she asked herself. “I gave everything.”

The worst was remembering his hands on her hips, his eyes on her shoulders and the taste of his sweat. She missed him so final. Where was he running, where could he go? “The universe was not vast enough for Ulysses to forget Circe”, she thought .

Suddenly, she understood that she needed to preserve her beauty, she needed to conserve her young soul for him. Because Ulysses would return, yes, Ulysses will be back. And, for the first time in 4 weeks, she smiled. She put back her magnificent jewellery, oiled her body with jasmine perfume, washed her hair in walnut extracts and started to plan ahead the day of his return. She would thread millions of dresses, each more beautiful than the other, and than sit on the highest peak of the island and watch carefully to the ocean’s horizon for Ulysses boat. He would not come back that day, but she was determined to prepare herself for his return. Taking her dress apart, threading another, different patterns, different looks she believed that the key of his return would be in resolving the puzzle of her appearance. By reinventing herself, Ulysses would see in her a different woman, a different pleasure.

Ulysses himself thought of Circe from time to time, however he was now happy, back to his faithful Penelope that was joyfully bathing him in rainwater every afternoon, was gathering fruits for his lazy mornings, was caressing his body with her hands, her feet and her breasts and threading clothes for him only with roots and fibres, dreaming with him. Then, he would call her, flying high on the vowels of her name: Penelope! Penelope! Penelope!

And minute by minute, day by day, Penelope became Circe and Circe became Penelope, as in each woman on this earth there is a part of Circe and there is another of Penelope.

When Ulysses left, Penelope could not understand. “Ulysses, how could a man’s heart be so dark, and allow a woman to love him, enchant him, bathe him in rainwater every morning, gather fruits for his lazy afternoon, caress his body with her hands, her feet, her breasts, thread clothes………

by Elena Cochia-Vochin

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