Delah was seated comfortably on a log at the front of the hut, her chin resting gently on her hand. She watched over the fields at the children playing with the animals, chasing the chickens and teasing the goat. Adults and older children at work in the fields; picking fruit and crops, sorting the wheat from the chaff. Flax lay bundled together with twine for papyrus, summer hats and clothes; wool from the sheep balled and ready for winter socks, trousers and gaiters. In every direction activity could be seen, hands in a flurry gathering, winding, picking and storing. She had blessed them with a strong harvest.

In the green fields, the cows fat from the broad pastures and sedate life; the trees in the orchards weighed down by the gravity of their burden. Corn rose to the blue skies for the final time, swaying gently in unison; a snake made of the breeze touching the dripping brows of the sun beaten workers in the fields. Whispers and snippets of talk invaded the motionless air; meaningless arcs and portions of the every day world. Sketches of lives erased as fast as they were drawn.

The pace was slow with the heat; the ground firm and dry, cracked and fissured in the late Summer’s sun. Delah served water to the workers in the fields, walking among them with a bucket and ladle. They drank greedily and thanked her heartily. Walking, one foot over the next, she drifted among the people feeling a peace born of the harvest. Too weak to dance and frolic in the sweltering heat, she sang to them to bring swiftness to their hands and labours.

 

“This be why at the end of the day, is how we live proud indeed,

From the orchards the apple, the apple good health and deliverer of the seed;

Till, toil, pick and sweat,

The harvest is upon us now,

And it is most gladly well met;

O workers of the field, O you who have tilled, toiled and sweat,

Bring us your bounty; your feast of nature, your toil is most gladly well met;

Till, toil, pick and sweat,

The harvest is upon us now,

And it is most gladly well met;

O workers of the field, O you who have kept the people well fed,

O Blessed of He, Her Dumuzid, who brings life once more to the dead;

Till, toil, pick and sweat,

The harvest is upon us now,

And it is most gladly well met;

O workers of the field, O you who brings the field and bough to life,

With your work, the cold winter moons will hold the people no strife;

Till, toil, pick and sweat,

The harvest is upon us now,

And it is most gladly well met;

People of the Valley, the harvest is upon us, make, make with haste,

There is fruit a-plenty, the fields are fat, and not a moment can go to waste;

Till, toil, pick and sweat,

The harvest is upon us now,

And it is most gladly well met.”

Sakrisan VI, Songs for the Fields

Just before dusk as the workers were winding down their efforts for the day; the bailiff of the land arrived. A burly man with thick forearms and red tufted hair, curls that pulled around his ears and onto his forehead. Delah’s sister greeted him amicably, for they had no issue that regarded the law. Inviting him into the hut for refreshments; he bade an regretful decline and spoke in a deep baritone to the assembled folk.

“I am here for the one ye call Sister Delah of the Valley. She is your sister is she not Ezi?” Looking soulfully at Delah’s sister he continued: “She has done deeds most evil and there is to be a trial for her guilt.”

“You must be mistaken Bailiff Fara-ana; she has been most unwell and banished to bed for recovery. What deeds could she have performed? She who has lost the child of the divine and the spark of life?”

Fara-ana glanced at the pale Delah, ever becoming the shadows as dusk descends. “I have no woe for the Sister Delah; but she is accused of High Blasphemy and I have to insist she accompanies me in preparation for trial upon the Plateau, in the Temple of E-ana. There her guilt and fate will be decided by the people of the Valley and there she must be to speak her innocence. I am sorry Wife Ezi, but she must accompany me.”

Ezi moved to her sister’s side, touching her shoulder with resolve. “No, Bailiff Fara-ana; she will not be leaving my homestead. She will face no trial for she has committed no such deed. High Blasphemy? Delah is a Sister of the Valley, the Blessed of She. A love of Her husband Dumuzid. She has not a blasphemous morsel in her being.” She stared hardily at the Bailiff; “No, I say and no sayeth all the people gathered here. She will not be leaving with you this eve.”

The Bailiff replied; “Let us not fight Wife Ezi; I am but the extension of Her will and She demands the presence of the Sister Delah. Will you not see sense, if your sister does not go for trial, her guilt will be assumed. She must come with me and speak her innocence before the people.”

Delah gripped her sister’s hand and rose to speak. Her sister fussed and made to send her to bed, but Delah resisted and spoke in a clear voice to the Bailiff. “I will accompany thee Bailiff Fara-ana; for it is in exercise of your duties to Her and denying the holy Goddess would be blasphemous indeed.” Her sister made to complain but Delah silenced her with soft fingertips on her lips. “Worry not my sister; for I will speak my innocence and the people will make judgement. Worry not Ezi for I must go with Fara-ana.”

Hugging the children, Ezi and her husband; Delah made for the old dirt track in the company of the Bailiff to make the journey through and up the Valley and unto the Temple. The moon would be high before they reached their destination. Looking skyward, Delah saw the bright star of the magnificent Inanna smiling benignly down on Her children.

To Chapter Sixty-Six – Young at Head

 

 

Picture: Maria (Brigitte Helm) from Metropolis (1927)
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