Her body was ancient when this age began. And before her embodiment she was whispered from one savage ear to the next. She has suckled countless human generations, her stories the first they heard and her words their last benediction.

She is older than human memory. No one knows her story.

I met her as a child. Ritual stories told by trusted adults. Tales at night from an aging record player.

As a young man I laughed at her, but later repented in grief and sorrow. Then I got the call and surrendered myself to her service.

I learned her truths in the ancient tongues. I received her esoteric wisdom. I communed with her servants. I courted her like a desperate lover, but I never tamed her, perish the thought. Only when I made my peace with her did she open herself and show me glimpses of the deep magic.

For a time I sang her praises and revealed her secrets in my own little magic show. But I grew tired and entered a second season of disenchantment. I became a wanderer and a lost soul.

I thought maybe I was done with her. But then I came into a dark alley and saw her assaulted by blackguards. They fled and left her broken body behind. Oh grandmother, what have they done to you? They have exposed your weak flesh and made sport of you. Your petticoats, once so endearing and even enticing, are roughly torn and spilled onto the asphalt.

Like a Samaritan I bathed her wounds and tucked her clothing back together. I carried her home.

I cannot be angry with those who hurt her. They haven’t seen the deep magic. They know not what they do.

I sat by her bed as she recovered. She said nothing to me. Not a word. She stared ahead without blinking. I was once a keeper of her ancient wisdom. Has she no words for me now?

I turned out the lights but lingered by the door for a moment. What would I do if she called upon me again to be her champion?

I closed the door. I do not want her call. I’ve been broken and emptied over that altar before. Now I am tired and wanting some time in the wilderness. I need to be with the wild animals and the people of the earth. I need to feel the heartbeat of nature beneath my feet. I need to see what things are real and what things are true.

But sometimes I sniff the wind and get that old feeling.

Almost almost I can remember the sound of her voice.

Gordon Atkinson

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