Spoken word collaboration. Music by Mr. Swaytooth. Words Dave Migman.
She wears a golden mask and a gown of white linen woven with spirals of golden thread. She is the priestess of the temple. Down below the cliffs the smoking cone billows its endless plume. Sometimes it speaks and the ground shakes. The priestess has bathed in the warm springs in the Bay of Hands, has been scrubbed clean by the acolytes, and wafted with smouldering branches of rosemary. Thus cleansed she enters the temple, climbs the steps of yellow stone to stand before the statue. It is a figure with a feminine form, naked, its small penis protrudes from the upper volume of its vaginal cleft. Its two small breasts are whorled with spirals, the face is stern, aquiline, androgynous, and its hair is braided and fixed with golden trails of serpent scales that terminate in carved obsidian faces, glans-like the snake heads drip milk from their mouths. The milk cascades down the God’s shapely shoulders. The serpent rose.
The Priestess prostrates herself upon the floor. Warm tiles press against her breasts and hips. Supine she closes her eyes. The goddess speaks in her mind. She feels herself grow rigid as the monologue unravels, stage by stage in words and pictures that swim with increasing lucidity behind closed lids. Eventually, when it is done she rises and the acolytes help her outside. The light is dazzling, she blinks against it sightless until her eyes register the details of those shifting shapes that surround her. Another reality takes form, the priests gather and they wait patiently for her to relay their God’s words.
She begins to intone in a monotone accent. Her eyes fold into her head, egg whites stare at the men. Words come:
There was a poem – it went like this:
There was a dream of a song
Hectic in chaos
Steady as a ship on calm oceans
Cascading with song
Heady with Being
In the absence of instance
Created an instant
Cast nets overboard
To catch poems and dreams.
And then she began to sing in a deep voice, a sound that came from the depth of a bottomless cauldron of blackest iron:
Silence on the old grey rock
Silence as the planet dissolves
Silence as the nebula reaches out
Silence as the stars fall down
Silence as the oceans vaporise
Silence as the mountains dissipate
Silence as the moons collide
Silence as the great savannahs breath with larvic splendour
And the solids melt away
Silence when the maggot man is gone!
Silence when the blood cools down
Silence when the flesh folds around
Silence like a grave slab rest
Silence when the fluttering stops within your chest
Silence in a cold blue sky
Silence in the tomb of mind
Silence in the longest night
Silence on the edge of the line
Silence in the avalanche shroud
Silence when the maggot man is gone!
Then she gasped, threw back her head and the mask fell, revealing a long, tanned face, youthful, and tattooed with geometric lines that clustered in ranks across her cheeks and drooped the corners of her mouth. Her eyes were wide zeros of surprise and then she giggled and the elders clapped, and shouted in joy.
Sum-isp-do spoke first “Qe-Ra-Si-Jo-Ja has spoken. The festival begins… we travel to the cave – bring the maggot men – bring the grapes and the wine and the wood for the fire – bring the drum and the lyre, the pipes and your voices – ready yourselves we depart as the sun makes its zenith.”
There are miles trod by leather soles, bare feet, the elders, priests, humpers and hawlers, fishermen, stone masons, the whole village, three hundred souls gathering more as they make their way to the mountain like a human centipede. The festivities take place above the cave. The masons had cut seating plinths and sacrificial altars into the mountain’s skin, they danced and sang, all in praise of the god, all praise QE-RA-SI-JO-JA! QE-RA-SI-JA-JO! Voices crack the air, the coil is set, the fires are made to blaze as the sun is dragged into the underworld and Nyx sets blaze the night. And once the cow and pig are roasted the maggot men are brought forth. They are despondent souls, hands bound, their flesh scrubbed clean, hair shorn to the bone. They are trussed to posts, their throats are slit. The priestess gathers the blood that swills from their wounds in a bronze urn, then they are set above the coals, to sizzle and burn, turning, turning, their scent perfumes the air, the scorched flesh of the long pig. And then the crowd walk forth from where their revelry colours the dark, they appear like phantoms suddenly enriched and blessed with physical form, they come forward and tear a sliver of flesh from their prize. Those conquered men.
Meanwhile the urn is lowered over the side down to the cave. The elect descend, the priests, priestesses, acolytes and the ruler of Ioussa with his bull headed crown. Down they go… into the volley of night, into the gut, into the cavernous gulch of the underworld itself. Can they see the sun? Firebrands all around ignite the stalagmites and glittering array of crystalline deposits, the drum sounds, cups are dipped into the rich mix of fresh blood and they drink, the priestesses strip and soon everyone is naked, they pour blood over their flesh, they come together, a melding of skin, flesh, sexual appetites flaring in ritualistic abandon, a pre-bacchic frenzy ensues, cocks dripping, breasts bright red, mouths filled with iron taste, the drum plays, accompanied by an orchestra of groans as semen mixes with the blood and Qe-Ra-Si-Ja-Jo is reborn.
* This is a tiny piece from a novella of mine entitled The Serpent Rose