Georgina HarrisPosted by Georgina Harris 02 May, 2009 12:10PM
A lyre. Music was the soft strain of strings tightening and bristling, loosening and falling through scale and pitch. A vibration between silence and chord. The lower strings cut through the abdomen, beat through blood and sinew; in the sparseness of the cave, they echoed so gently that the rock itself softened. Each shape was surrounded by the sound; enveloped by it, submerged in it. Notes absorbed into tiny pockets of air and were breathed in; fissures and clefts in the stone trapped them and released them in one continuous cycle. An immersion of sound.
Her delirium was traversed, dissected. Chords sliced through thoughts of snakes and smoke. Eyesight gone, and still limping, she thought of Orpheus and his lyre, without hearing his voice or his lyre. Listening.
She was called. She had been called. Men and women were stooping; the king and queen wiping traces of salt from their cheeks under swollen eyes and the voice becoming more fragile and tremulous in the dark of the great hall. A feeling of urgency. Still walking with the left leg hanging shy, foot turned in and dirty, like an injured dog, her right foot stomping quickly and hard, the ball of it squeezing and pressing against the ground. She moved quickly through the shuffling crowd , hearing the music grow louder, notes budding like magnolias; unwrapping and revealing, then dying and scattering within the lower air. Each note sung like magnolias, blossoms opening and falling in designed patterns overlapping each other, peaks and troughs beginning in different places. Crescendos followed by pauses halted by further crescendos, and all the time his voice sighing like pond weed, moving back and forth and wavering in the air. Her own tears, springing impossibly from her cheeks at the sound of it; eyes bathed and becoming clearer in the stinging salt. Longing words; absence; ringing about her and pushing the fog away from her sight. She saw different shapes, glistening and sharpening; a beetle still clinging to the cloth of her dress, nestling in the folds of the drapes, and scratching at it with limbs like conical shells. An image of the beetle resting on her was overwhelming, the music was overwhelming as each sense was invaded by things felt more closely, more magnified. Threading through the enormous cavern, she could now see him with the instrument, plucking away and wailing whilst everything about him became soaked in tears, the Furies’ cloaks saturated in tears. But he was turned away from her and playing only to Hades, and Proserpine, and not to her. With now near-perfect vision, she could only make out the back of his scalp, and the way each clay-coloured hair twisted and curled out of each follicle on it; how the hairs on the nape of his neck, craned to play the lyre, stood sparking charged. She was held in her place, but her limp foot began to claw the ground, struggling to see him fully. He left ahead of her; a feeling of being set free, and ascension, and pain, because he showed her only the back of his scalp, and his neck, and her ankle was painful for her, and he wouldn’t help.
In this way they passed upwards, Orpheus’ head twisting to the side despite himself, and Eurydice urging him with each step to let her take just one look at him before the surface; a feeling so intense that he could feel her eyes burrowing into his skull. They passed marshes which rested on the steep against them, but were stagnant, and rotted, and filled of nothing but a few sprigs of dead roots and an innate gloom, which chilled them both. And they climbed up rocky pathways which she struggled to manoeuvre through, wedging her left leg between the cracks in boulders to use it as a lever, and silently crying when she felt the poison still resting in her veins. And always she was moving in his shadow as he moved towards the light, and whispering to him secretly to turn around and look at her. She was beginning to tire; breath becoming more shallow and jittery, bending and tearing fingernails from their beds, clawing and scraping her way up ledges and steps and begging him to turn around.
The light; a feeling of relief and homeliness, but knowing he refused to look at her, neck straining to turn. And she was exhausted, and bleeding, and her dress had turned black with the seams of coal they had passed running through the rock. Without opening her lips, she screamed for him to turn around and comfort her.
He could not resist. And she was lost.
Georgina HarrisPosted by Georgina Harris 02 May, 2009 12:10PM
After some lovely comments, here is the full text (split into two because of its length.) It should be noted that the extract published before had been slightly altered to be more "plain speaking" so this will appear fairly abstract! If confused, please ask!
Orpheus and Eurydice
White dress with nymph clustered about her, moving from pool to pool, marsh from marsh, blooming and flowing under quivering branches. A vision of Orpheus playing on the lyre. Shadows draping heavily about her breastbone, wiping brittle eyes. Virgin cloth reeking with ashy drops from Hymen’s smoking torch. Naiad sisters picking grass blades and feeling them to be fluid; running fingers up stems and splitting them between their vertical veins. Walking and following and leading through the grass, velvet buttercups tilting heads towards Apollo’s glare, brushing the cheeks of ankles, and beetles, and staining them with pollen. Fragments (skeletons) of flowers drifting; catching in molten sunlight, and in the distance, and in their hair.
Beneath the undergrowth, a crispness, an odour of rotting and decay. An animal slowly crumbling into the soil, a spawn of insects feasting hungrily inside its sickened shell.
A snake turning, reaching out to tickle creamy skin with the tip of its tongue and feeling suddenly potent,
A feeling of desire and design, as if commanded by stains of marital smoke within the skull.
A need to bite through tenderness.
A man was sitting in the sun, his eyes resting upon the bride. She turned running towards the shade, feeling a strange pricking at her ankle. An image of Orpheus passed dazzled in the glare across her eyes.
All of them sources, all of them rustling their cloth; brooks, fonts, rivers and wells, all of them running freely through the grasses, jaundice stained, marshes and ponds too, all running past the hedgerow, and springs and marshes, all running. The seduced and the seducers, running.
Eurydice’s head had fallen on a patch of soil which had been trampled by the bases of their slender heels and where the grass was squashed and pulped; clear juices running from their juicy sarcoid stems. Her hair, curling like ivy stalks, spread erratically out over the dirt. A beetle used it as a bridge between two tall stems. And still, in the distance, legs were swimming over the meadow, and shoulder blades working under heavy fabric and yet more hair, under the afternoon sun.
Her body began to sink into the earth, submerged in clods of soil and beetles, burrowing animals and earthworms chewing and spitting it out around her. And still Orpheus. Her skin turned sour from peach to sallow and she was aware of a feeling like a ghost’s, a translucent, colourless feeling pervading and permeating the smoky fabric of her wedding gown. She felt beads of heady ashy substance draining from her clothes and knew that her scent was being pulled away as she too felt pulled through the earth. Underground streams became more like distant rumblings rather than the hard sound of water filtering and dribbling through pebbles she had heard closer to the surface. Her eyes failed to trace the line and curve of the growing rock. She saw it as an image, a captured photograph, which formed in the centre of them and spread out like a ripple making a summary of shape and form. Her own form had become a woven texture of vapours moulded into various shapes. Marrow and fibres sank into a filmy substance, the sensation of having flesh, appearing only as an inner sponging to bulk her transient frame. The feeling not unpleasant; a gradual loosening, or a lessening of her body, mind lucid and vivid, and still concerned with her husband, their marriage and the smoke which had blown between them, bringing salty tears to eyes.
The naiads stopped to turn. One noticed a small and twisted hand peeking through a patch of crouching weeds and attached to a wrist beginning to burn in the sunlight. A scream.
Other forms descending. An awareness of similar shapes, of closeness, of similarity. The feeling of becoming a face of a many sided shape, one aspect of a cliff-face even, a singular shape part of a complex whole which she could not make out through her narrow vision; eyes like blind beams. Mind rattling as feet move slowly forward, still treading on the same spot. Confusion.
In this way she went, thinking only of fate and of Orpheus, pulling at her earlobes and hearing wails which she believed to be her own. The ground trembled with the shuffle of feet moving alongside; with the trembling came her own clatter of deafening bereft, followed by a quiet murmur of absence which lingered. And still moving. Inevitable feet still churning, ankle bitten and limping.