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Her Light Extinguished

Her Light Extinguished
by Shelly Bryant

Her Light Extinguished


Parading beasts audition, each seeking to serve as companion to man. One by one passing before him, one by one rejected. His eyes to the heavens turn, sighing toward one bright spot.

“Why is there nothing like that for me? Her light twinkling beauty suits me better. How can mere beasts compare?”

From her lofty home, Lilith looks on. Moved by his longing for her, she turns to the Maker.

“Let it be as he wishes, Lord.”

“Would you have it so?”

“Yes. Let me be his partner for all of our days.”

“Your days, or his?”

“If not mine, then his.”

“As you wish then. Only, go not alone. Take your sister. Let her be a maid to keep you in heavenly comfort.”

      her earthward descent
      outshines all other glories
      Lilith’s bridal train

His eyes raise in wonder. His arms reach up to her. He thanks the Maker for this glowing bride.

Reaching her orbit, she shines over him. He stands, with face uplifted, raising in equal measure sighs and lovers’ customary speech. Her affections shower down in rays onto his erect form.

Under each night’s blanket, as all else sleeps, the two keep vigil, each enrapt in the other’s form. Nightly locked in a shared gaze, trapped in bodies that may never meet.

She rests content above. Below, his longings multiply.

      night gazes exchanged
      without a single caress
      unmade marriage bed

“Come to me.”

“Love, you know I may not.”

“If you wished, you would find a way.”

“I can come to you no more than you can come to me. We are made each of different stuff than the other.”

“You don’t want these hands, of earth wrought, to soil your shining form.”

“Silly child. I don’t want my form, of stardust wrought, to unmake your whole sphere, as it must if I nearer draw.”

“Lilith, come.”

“Hush. Is it not enough to look upon me, and to love?”

“Enough? It is torture.”

“Torture to gaze upon my form?”

“Torture not to possess it.”

“You know not what you say. How in all the worlds that are would you possess me?”

“Go! Torment me no more!”

      his wish shaping hers
      she turns to face the dark void
      her light extinguished

“Lilith! Turn back!”

But stars take less kindly to rejection than do mortals crawling upon the earth. Her stony heart remains unmoved.

In sorrow, he beats his breast. In rage, he pulls his hair. In despair, he falls to the earth of which he is made.

“Why am I left thus alone?”

From the heavens, a reply, in a voice unlike his beloved’s.

“Would you have another?”

“Yes.”

“Another as glorious as she?”

“No. Let this one never rest overhead. Let her be of lower nature. As you’ve made me, make her of like matter.”

“So be it.”

      dominion on Earth
      divine cooperation
      with man’s slightest whim

Awaking from a swoon, with a new ache in his side, he sees her form lying nearby. There is no blazing light. Her glory is of a lowlier sort, flesh and bones formed to suit his own. She will answer his desire.

Above, Lilith looks on, unshining from her hidden space. She weeps at her fate, usurped by one of dirt made.

To her sister she turns for comfort.

“Luna, let us depart. Let us retreat again to the depths of cold space, far from the site of my shame.”

“Lilith, I cannot.”

“Cannot?”

“My eyes, too, have taken note of the earth, and learned to love. Your heart beats for him formed of it, mine for that from which he is formed. With Terra I must remain.”

      loving sisters
      affections turned to dust
      as they circle the earth

“But Luna! With him — with them! — I cannot bear to remain,” howls the elder. “And from you I do not wish to part.”

“Neither will I leave her.”

“But you know her love is not yours. Her eyes turn only to Sol. She would have him rule over her. Around his fancy she shapes her comings and goings. Don’t be a fool. She will not be yours.”

“It is as you say. And yet I will not go. I care not where her affections turn. Only let me look upon her.”

      waltzing night skies
      one gaze upon the Earth
      the other turned away

Luna’s watching eye Terra’s form commands each night, as her ear is filled with her sister’s refrain.

“Learn from my tale, Luna. Be not like me. Commit not yourself to the keeping of inconstancy. Stay near if you must, but torture yourself not with looks upon her form as it looks upon another. Turn away. Seek solace in the cold heavens.”

Day after day sisterly persuasion assaults.

At last, she turns, but is unable to forego the sight of her beloved. Turning back, she notes her rival’s fierce blaze over Terra’s curve.

Unwilling to leave, unable to bear the sight of her beloved’s love for another, she oscillates between Lilith’s taunts and Terra’s draw. The elder sister, in constant concealment from the eyes of Earth’s children, keeps watch over Luna’s eternal spin between two desires.

      sign of men’s longing
      her inconstancy mirrored
      in hearts of earth made

* * *


Shelly Bryant spends half of each year in Singapore teaching English literature, and the other half in Shanghai studying Chinese language. She loves to read, write, cycle, and travel. Her poems have appeared in numerous small press publications, and there are plans in the works for her first collection of poetry to be released late in 2009. You can visit her website.

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?

I would like to have some fantastic explanation, like saying that aliens visit me once a quarter to give me ideas. But then, on top of being untrue, that would do an injustice to any intelligent life that exists out there. The fact is, I get my ideas the old fashioned way — lots of reading, some research, and listening to what is going on around me. Long walks or long cycling trips help flesh out the ideas.

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