Historical setting: 588 C.E.
An autumn wind brushes through the patch of rosemary wafting with the scent of broken stems setting a storm onto our patch of sky then drenching rain. With Eve’s house in ash there is no shelter. We are all, however we grieve, soaking in shared rain.
The soft gray dust of what was once a place for healing now clings to my feet. Why do I wonder over the substance of angel’s wings? Are they only an artist’s plaster, or are they made of feathers, as the images and metaphors imply? Now I see the wings of angels are made of ash, and it is our tears that weigh them to earth and don’t allow the pneuma to come as wind and carry them off in a great swirl of dust to be one with God.
Dear God, please see this face past the ravages of her earthly woes, the pox, the blindness, the wear of time, and know the beautiful daughter you loaned to teach me more of your love than I had ever known. Amen.
Some foundation stones mark the house. The hearthstones stand cold; the flame is gone. Candles she kept here are now dark stain on formless ash.
Where there was the shed no animals are here. The mules were moved to the count’s stables months ago. I find here the iron tool that was once Nic’s own dagger that he had hammered into this child-sized sickle for Anatase. I tuck that into my bag. Even the coop for the chickens is burnt up, yet three chickens are flapping free waiting for their daily dish of grain.
A farmer comes from a neighboring cottage. He says he heard the screams and stepped out in the darkness to see. “They came up from the river. They were Persians, swarthy like the olive skin of the pagan woman they killed. They had broad swords flashing in the moonlight. Flames were already rising. One had the screaming, thrashing younger woman over his shoulder. The blind woman was groping after the screams wandering into the dark. One of the pirates went right up to her swinging his sword probably expecting the woman would run away, but she moved toward to sound of the sword slashing at the wind, calling the girl’s name into the darkness; so she was slashed on her neck and killed. She spoke no prayer. They ran off toward the river. I’m sure they were pirates.”