“Long is the night the domain of the crone,

Where the living do fear and the dead do roam.

The darkness is all, the fear does grow,

For in the black, evil does sew.

The moon and the Star shine bright in our eye,

To fight back the dark and to uncover the lie.

The night walks among us dressed in black cloth,

O Lilith the everlasting night, when Utu the glory is within his trough.

She walks with her dagger poised to find weakness and breach,

In mortals, she finds what she seeks and unto them she doth teach;

Do unto Lilith what she wants of you,

Your heart will be black by the day is through.

O Lilith the everlasting night, O seeker of the dark;

Let us mortals sleep safely, without memory of your daggers mark.”

Sakrisan II, Song of Lilith the Everlasting Night

Delah sat before the communal fire appreciating the warmth in the chill of the morning. Food had been delivered and she had eaten her fill of oats and raw barley, a new flavour her passenger had acquired. The grain merchant’s wife arrived at first light bearing a steaming brew. She begged her pardon but asked of the beautiful Sister if she might partake in the drink. She said that it had been delivered from the Temple itself, kept warm and safe in the journey. It was called the Gift of Remorse and she, the blessed of Dumuzid was to drink it, for it will bear her child relief from remorse and pain. A most wonderful gift, stammered the wife in awe. She passed the mug carefully to Delah and watched as she drank it down. It was thin and bitter, leaving an aftertaste of tansy and bloom. Delah smiled to the wife and passed the mug back with thanks and blessings of the day.

She rose to her feet, already feeling a swell and pain in her ankles she walked to the village to ease her bones. Onward into the Valley she walked, under tree and past hut. She came upon the orchard; apples on the bough waiting to be picked. She was hungry again and reached for an apple, feeling a slight twinge in her side. Taking an apple she bit deeply, enjoying the flesh and zest of the fruit. It sated her hunger and through the orchard she wandered. Stopping at trees to inspect and feel their rough bark; looking upward at their majestic arms raised towards the heavens. The sun was beginning to fall in the sky as she leaned against an apple tree, gazing into the cloudless sky. Her vision blurred, she felt as though someone had pushed her head with force. Dizziness overtook her as she slid down the trunk of the tree to rest on the floor. It was a passing spell, it must have been the child waking up, she thought. The smell of lavender was pleasing down here, near the dark and soft soil beneath the tree.

Under the tree she remained as Utu burned himself out for another day, chasing Lilith into the dark places. Nanna, the moon bright and smiling gazed at Delah who looked back with reverence. Night was falling and a chill took hold; Delah tried to rise to her feet, but fell to the floor. She could not stand, she cried out for help. The orchards were for the pregnant and the cries could be heard by all, but she had walked far and long. Holding the trunk with nails digging into the bark she leaned over retching. She was nauseous; trying to right herself once more, her vision became shadowed. She vomited without moving her head, blood started to seep from between her legs. No she mouthed. No nonono no. She shouted with a dry rasp, someone had heard.

A crone came to her and finding Delah unconscious and bleeding, she called for help and they took her to a hut. Nanna slept as Utu raged once more. Delah lay in a bed of straw and camomile, feverish and faint. In and out of waking, she saw blurred faces, figures dressed in white and black talking quietly to each other. They were so far away, she strained to hear the words but they came in a jumble. She awoke again to find two Sisters in attendance. Still feverish and yellow with illness of the liver and kidney, she tried to rise up from her bed. The Sisters came fast and told her to stay still, not to move for she was most unwell. Delah raised her arm and looked at her hand, quivering it had a yellow hue. “The child” she said, “What of our child?” The Sisters each took a hand, “he is lost unto us my Sister, he is departed for the Underworld my Sister.”

The World stops.

To The Brothers (A Slight Reprise III – The Barracks)

Cover image from: https://photographyfreestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/mysterious-night-sky/