Saturday, August 8, 2015

Roadside Shrines (Along the Path to the Holy Mother) by Jillian Parker

Shutter me into blackness in a blink of the mind's eye, break the march of the where/when. A name un-worded and light unstoppered flicker at the edges. I dreamed an awakening as if from a root cellar, of clawing through musty sand, an emerging through a trap-door blindly, swaying, falling. Whose is this voice that rends me? Rough waves seize my spine, and tug at my shoulders. I ache from an inability to translate these messages. Why choose me? I'm just a girl from a family of women afraid to touch one another. She's there. It's Her, again--all that I do not know; all the ways I have not gone, the words that have not yet come: rising, writhing, rising.

When I was a child, I took a sip of perfume. I wanted to become one with scent, and lose my secrets. I read the label on the bottle and it spoke of poison. I went outside and built myself a wall of snow and lay on my back behind it, letting large flakes melt on my nose, breathing slowly, waiting to die.

The locks creaked and the gears turned, but life throbbed in me, persisted. The mind followed shadow-shapes into dark corners. The body turned to fire. A multitude of fragile white crystals sifted onto the ground while I burned.

I turned a thousand pages and swam in the voices of psalms. Again and again I climbed my tree and searched for a sign in her windruffled branches. A candle, a prayer, an ache, an ice princess.

Within my cave, I hoarded the coin of pain, and greedily guarded this bed. I let the curtain fall on my tears, and slept. In a dream, perched on a dizzy stone balcony, I felt the earth calling. A child cried. I turned away from the edge, back to my slumbers.

Let us suppose there were a child of flame, whose mouth, instead of words, formed lances that pierced like the screams of a juvenile eagle. For the sake of such a child, Inanna herself would march naked through the seven doors of the underworld, and be hung on a hook, until she found his voice.

But what if her sister said, Wait. First you must feed me. And Inanna would say, What do you want, sister? I'll bring you anything. Ripe persimmons. The rarest of silks. No, her sister would say. I want you to remain. Here. Dig. Let the blood from your wounds drip into the ground. And keep on digging until a spring appears. First, give me a drink, and then bring him the cup.

And what if we both drank from the same spring, and found our voices together, this child and I?

-Jillian Parker, an excerpt from She Rises: Why Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality

Painting by Lucy Pierce


  1. I am intrigued by the phrase "until she found his voice" in the third to last paragraph. I was expecting "her" voice because I thought the child was female. Thoughts?

  2. Not since I was a credulous child has Surrey telling transported me the way Jillian Parker's rhapsodic prose and dazzling fairy tales captivates my attention and then my imagination. Thank you.