Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, March 2, 2009

stone

Tiresius, when he was turned into a woman, could not live among his people. He learned the truth about men and women. Men were drunk and laughing. Women endured.

She could not walk the streets without the risk of rape. She could not stand in a doorway and say hello to the men that used to be her friends. They looked at her different now. They had a smile in their eyes that should not have been there. They had a lingering touch that promised of unwanted advances, and soon.

To the hills, then, in the night, Tiresius dressed as a man and fled. To the ocean, then, in the morning, so many years spent as a man, Tiresius could pass as a sailor well enough.

Well enough to pass, but the storms came, blew the ship to rocks.

He fell ashore, among stones. Thousands upon thousands of stones. The forest of stones had faces, and arms - or, at least, they did until the erosion took such things away.

He knew where he was. He knew how to survive, here. He put out his own eyes with a stone finger. This is how he became the blind seer: after he put out his eyes, he wandered from rock to rock, searching for the statue's lips. He let the stones whisper into his ear all the stories of their lives. He was looking for a way off the island for a blind woman, and it took seven years.

All the while, he heard the hissing of the gorgons all around him. They watched him, curiously, the woman who ate leaves off the vines that grew up around the stones, and tried merely to listen to all the stories of the stones.

The gorgons, not truly monstrous, not truly cruel, to women, pitied the blind Tiresius. They brought him sides of roasted goat to eat, sometimes, and fresh fruit from their gardens.

When all the stones had been listened to, and all the thousands of lives had poured into the blind woman's ear, the gorgons made a raft for Tiresius. They touched the woman for the first time in seven years, and pushed him out to sea.

They called to their former lover, Poseidon, to heal the pathetic woman in the raft.

They had never spoken to Tiresius. They never harmed him.

And when Poseidon saw the woman in the raft, he assumed the woman had blinded herself and did not want to be healed from that. He assumed the woman wanted to return to its former life, as a man.

And that is how Tiresius returned to his manhood after years spent as a woman. That is how Tiresius became blind. That is how Tiresius became wise.

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