• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 07

My god-child, lost

When first you came I bundled you in blankets and wandered down to the wide shores of the river, its dark waters cooling and away from the dust that got under my eyelids.

You reached fat hands out towards the reeds, and in the wind they bowed for you. When you were still crawling I muttered spells under my breath as I stroked your curling hair. I wrapped you in incantations even as you grew strong, and wriggled free from my kisses. I imagined you slipping down side-streets in the dusk and asked the goddesses to be kind. Was there a debt to be paid? A child so singular, who could not be tamed.

When they told me you’d drowned I did not howl like the other noblewomen. I found that I joined you underwater, sounds and lights muffled, limbs adrift. There were people to sort out the particulars. The wine served at the ceremony, which of your finest gowns to adorn your flesh as you travelled away from me forever. I did not bleat a single order. When I opened my mouth, it filled with river-water.

The day came and they paraded you through the sunbaked streets. The wind whipped up dust, swirling in my skirts and settling on my damp skin. They showed me the painting, waiting for the motherly weeping. I cared for it as I care for the stones underfoot, the coin in my purse. Cold, insignificant things. What I would do for your laughing face etched into the living palms of my hands. Your eyes shining eternally, your soul whispering to mine throughout the ages. What I would give for you to know my love will not cease for a thousand years.