The Infinity of Destinies ~ Dedicated to E.

This painting depicts the Ancient Greek poetess, Sappho, as she faces the stormy ocean, standing on the cliff's edge in flowing white clothing. According to the legend, Sappho threw herself off the cliffs of the Greek island Leucadia, due to losing her lover.
Sappho by Miquel Carbonell i Selva (1881)

“The storm is coming!” So the tidal waves utter, crashing into cliffs and spattering their violent embraces across the roaring shore. There is only one dark silhouette standing quiescently amidst the oncoming water. A young lady with dark, shadowy eyes fixed on the edge of the Earth is singing, as her raven hair wavers in the forceful gusts of poignant oceanic air…

"The wind will carry us,
And everything shall disappear:
The caresses and wars,
The wounds which pull us near…"

“Eva!” – a distant cry, subdued by the northern gale, reaches her, yet the young lady remains still, frozen, unwavering, letting the grains of salt pierce her bare skin. Counting the sailing ships, as they fade into a dusky horizon, Eva feels the grains of golden sand slipping through her fingers. The tighter she clasps them, the faster they creep away, like aureate snakes, leaving behind their obscure venom – the pain of regret.

"In the palace of time,
Tomorrow and yesterday,
Our dead years still shine,
Their scent is swept away…"

The thunder blends with a feeble voice, calling her name longingly, devoutly, as the refulgent silver arrow breaks the sky in two. And so it goes: the sun is sinking – a lonely heart is lost at sea. Eva is trying to suppress a tremor, rushing from her fingertips to the spine: the last grain of sand has fallen, instantaneously giving in to the torrent’s insatiable kiss. She is out of time.

“The infinity of destinies
Knocks softly on your door –
My shadow from the rising seas
Will take your dust ashore…”

Desolately, Eva follows the relentless call. Deeper and deeper she is submerging, steadfast and upright, despite stepping on shrouded rocks, as the slender threads of seaweed enlace her body. The tumultuous water strokes her lips, leaving its pungent taste on the tongue. Irrevocably, Eva breathes out, and the waves close over her in a thunderous roll.

Startled by an ominous flash, she beholds the subaqueous realm, lit up by a dim electric blaze. The swirls of dust ascend from the ocean floor, clouding Eva’s eyesight, pouring their torturous acid into her burning lungs. Another flare penetrates the water’s surface, transfixing the drowning body, and the young woman feels a sharp twinge in her heart. A second of luminescent radiance is enough to see the tumultuous vortex of shipwreck debris swirling hither and thither, destroying everything in its wake. Yet, she faces the peril – unvanquished, unafraid.

This portrait version of the Ancient Greek Poetess Sappho has her under water among the sea plants as she slowly drowns, with a Lyre floating by her left hand.
La Mort de Sappho (The Death of Sappho) by Charles-Amable Lenoir (1896)

At lightning speed, akin to a wild siren, someone’s diaphanous, weightless hands lock around Eva’s waist, pulling her into the fathomless void. For an ephemeral moment, two silhouettes embrace, sinking into unfathomable depths; only the tempest’s rhythm and the ebbing heartbeat are left in the widening darkness.

Slowly emerging from the deafening slumber, her soul encounters – not Death – but the all-knowing Fate. Myriad fleeting memories encompass Eva’s consciousness. All her life is laid out neatly before the mind’s omnipresent eye, every detail accentuated, inviting her to choose any day, any instant – to revive, to rescue it from Lethe’s remorseless stream. She could easily forget, annihilate all the joy and anguish, yet the memories persist, hovering on the edges of her being, filling in every fold, every crevice. Alas, only one moment can be rescued from this treasury – a singular gem to shelter from the oncoming tide in the deepest chambers of remembrance. The lady takes a deep breath.

Eva is standing on the shore – the bride of the waves, the forlorn mistress of the looming storm. A captive aboard the missing ship engulfed by the monstrous billows, her lover has now found empyrean comfort on the seabed’s soft pillow. Observing the vessels, swaying precariously in the distance, before they vanish once and forever, she keeps counting. “One” – the thunder rolls across the bay. “Two” – the lightning lingers on the water’s rippled mirror. “Three” – the last grain of sand falls from her trembling hands. Again, she feels a burning sting of regret – “I could not save you from the fatal eclipse. I could not answer your cries. This recollection is the only thing left.”

“Eva!” – the voice calls again – ethereally distant, yet heart-wrenchingly familiar. Oh – if only for an instant – to prolong the moment, to stretch the memory, savouring the doleful music of a lover’s call! Although she has relived this minute multitudinous times, still the desperate yearning submerges her under its smothering billow. Willingly, Eva returns to the sea, trading eternity for a moment in her beloved’s arms. When they touch – briefly, tenderly – she whispers:

“Forsaking the infinity of destinies, I choose the memory of you.”

21 thoughts on “The Infinity of Destinies ~ Dedicated to E.

  1. I enjoyed reading your story, Veronica. I am an admirer of Sappho’s verse, and own a Kindle edition of her poetry. Iwas (until I read your post/the description of the painting), unaware that she killed herself. Best wishes, Kevin

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kevin! I’m delighted that you are fascinated by the works of this poetess, as well! Unfortunately, it is unknown whether Sappho has committed suicide or not, although a few legends state so. Personally, I don’t think she took her own life – the scholars don’t have sufficient proof this happened. Although my writing was immensely inspired by the myth, it is mostly a contemplation on the nature of life, and how one moment or feeling, if it matters enough, can transcend time, distance, and even death itself. The story is vague on purpose – it is open to many interpretations! If I told you my own vision, the mystery would be gone, don’t you agree?
      With gratitude, Veronica

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “If I told you my own vision, the mystery would be gone, don’t you agree?”.

        I do indeed agree, Veronica. This is the main reason why I rarely provide explanation as regards my own poetry. I will, as you know, give the occasional footnote explaining a reference to another poem and/or poet. However, I don’t wish to prevent my readers from putting their own interpretation upon my writing.

        Its fascinating how different people perceive diverse meanings in the same written composition. I once had a reader seeing in my poem “Raining” the representation of tears. He thought the rain “was crying”. I had never looked at my poem in this way, so was interested in his view of the poem.

        Best wishes, Kevin

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my work, Stephanie! Your amiable review has brightened up my day. 😉 Recently, I have been experimenting with various styles, so it’s a delight to see my efforts being rewarded. Only a few people appreciate the stream of consciousness technique, and it is profoundly gratifying to know that you are one of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Slowly emerging from the deafening slumber, her soul encounters – not Death – but the all-knowing Fate. Myriad fleeting memories encompass Eva’s consciousness. All her life is laid out neatly before the mind’s omnipresent eye, every detail accentuated, inviting her to choose any day, any instant – to revive, to rescue it from Lethe’s remorseless stream. She could easily forget, annihilate all the joy and anguish, yet the memories persist, hovering on the edges of her being, filling in every fold, every crevice. Alas, only one moment can be rescued from this treasury – a singular gem to shelter from the oncoming tide in the deepest chambers of remembrance. The lady takes a deep breath.”

    And then later on, the last line…. wow.

    I love the voice all through this Veronica, strong but compassionate toward Eva, though laced with ominous tones. Of all the memories she chooses one that will not help her but doom her, because it is the one most filled with love. That was my interpretation anyway. I’m not familiar with the original references so can’t fully know the depth of what you’ve created here, though.

    Hard to remember that English is your second language… truly the phrases all through are so masterful. The part about the “aureate snakes” was another section that was deeply evocative. Kudos!! 💛

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am profoundly grateful for your exquisitely thoughtful review of my work, Lia! There’s no greater joy than to behold an observant reader grasping the essence of one’s writing. I love your eloquent interpretation: “Of all the memories she chooses one that will not help her but doom her, because it is the one most filled with love.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! As for the references, I will reveal one of them in appreciation of your perceptive insights! Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting poem, “A Dream Within a Dream,” has partially inspired Eva’s soliloquy:

      “I stand amid the roar
      Of a surf-tormented shore,
      And I hold within my hand
      Grains of the golden sand —
      How few! yet how they creep
      Through my fingers to the deep,
      While I weep — while I weep!
      O, God! Can I not grasp
      Them with a tighter clasp?
      O God! can I not save
      One from the pitiless wave?
      Is all that we see or seem
      But a dream within a dream?”

      P.S. Receiving praise from a native speaker is the highest reward! Nevertheless, if I ever make a mistake in my writing, please don’t hesitate to correct me. All kinds of criticism are welcome here!

      With gratitude,
      Veronica

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Veronica… that poem… utterly equisite… I have never read that one till now. Thank you so much for sharing this with me, and thank you for your wonderful and thoughtful reply. As for your English, native speaker though I am, I believe it might be better than mine. ;)) So same goes for you over on my blog. Very very grateful to know you here, you are an amazing person!! With love, “Lia” ❤︎🌻

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m utterly happy that you’ve enjoyed Poe’s astounding verses!
        Thank you for the generous compliments, Lia, and your heartfelt replies. Interacting with you and reading your vivid, passionate poetry is a balm for the soul. Affectionately, Veronica 💌

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am profoundly grateful for the mention, Kevin! It’s an honour to have my writing featured on your blog. Hopefully, your readers will enjoy it.
      With my most cordial appreciation,
      Veronica

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Veronica, do you know offhand a good source Sappho’s works online in audio format? Sometimes I listen while I am working, makes it easier to fit more into a busy life. Thanks for posting and any help you might be able to offer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear J.P., unfortunately, I couldn’t find an audio version of my favourite translation (”If Not, Winter” by Anne Carson). I suppose it could be found in PDF online.

      However, there’s an audiobook on YouTube with Sappho’s short biography and poetry – here’s the link: https://youtu.be/FBpNLXLIALs
      and another: https://youtu.be/KDPUCjrFYuI
      Nevertheless, I’m not a fan of these translations, and I’d highly recommend reading Carson’s work!🌟
      I hope this helped. ☺️ Happy to know you are interested in the writing of this great poetess!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand I have run into translation issue on may things. I will do as you have suggested and read her work. Thanks very much. Oh, I am interested in most poetry or thoughts on it. I have read some Sappho before, but it has been a very long time.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It is my pleasure to help fellow poetry lovers.😉 Good luck with Sappho – I’m sure you’ll enjoy her works even more after the long interlude!

        Like

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