The Tale of Two Women

bishopTwoWomenSteppingOnToCurb - CopyOn Angels

by Czeslaw Milosz

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seams.

Short is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice — no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightning.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draws near
another one
do what you can.


This is the tale of two women. From Indiana, from Buffalo. From the dawn of darkness and the shattered vessels of light. From India, from Spain, from the desert, from the ocean. From grandfather medicine and grandmother zeal. From Lower East Side tenement buildings and from playing by the train tracks, from good girl and rebel, from MTV and Madonna and from the Chelsea Hotel. From temples destroyed to red tents of communing, call them Ruth and Naomi, call them Aimee and Jaguar, call them angels, call them ancestors, call them me and her, call them you and me, call them mothers and lovers, call them ripped apart, call them reunited, call them wanderers, call them homemakers, call them healers, witnesses, and candle-lighters.

From demigoddess to devotee, from Krishna to cow-herder, from refusal to respect, from resistance, forced conversion, hidden artifacts and whispered prayers, this is their tale. There was a time before time when these two existed as darkness and light, as origin, invention, as believe beyond seeing, as seeing what is right in front of you, all the proof they’ll ever need, a day drawing near, another one. Nearer still, and soon come like a song on repeat through so many lifetimes leading to this very one, this very time, this very place where the leaves blaze and overtake every single goodbye.

There are two women, whose eyes contain continents, whose hearts are fluent in something so pure you’d never believe me if you didn’t see with your own eyes and understand their voices, voices that have called for each other through space and time, voices that have cracked and claimed and cradled the newborn and the dying. They are two, and they are one; there they are in the kitchen swaying to the lovesong of warm, running water, rich with the scent of apples, geranium, and earth. There they are dancing in a dimly lit room–which room doesn’t matter. There they are where the rivers converge, where the seasons blend seamlessly one into the other, where the angels soar and then sweep the floor near the bare soles of their feet. There they are keeping each other warm, and making soup, where laughing and crying are the music of so many lost and so many saved.

This is the tale of two women. Whose love is an entity all its own, whose union comes and comes again like the call of the heron, the golden seal, the myth made real, scrolling through the ordinary days, a path to walk, a short, sacred stay, a sweet, singular note, a soothsayer song. Redemption as plain as the story is true, as the dishes in the sink and the long soak and the boxes packed of coming home to safety. Day drawing near, another one–do what you can to cinch closed the chasm of longing. And be sure to keep reading, long after the words have taken flight and the bells have stopped ringing, after the before and well beyond the believing. There has never been a question; both so worthy of receiving.

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