Shamhat

two miles away from you may your lover tremble with excitement,
one mile away may he bite his lip in anticipation

I would have journeyed to him unbidden,
my path from the temple fated and traced
by sandaled feet, dusty but still eager
in their purpose, the way we find our gods

what lives in him would find a way to spark
the fuse that drives and draws me here,
beside the spring where he comes to drink
to lie down, naked and spread under sky,
ready, open for the man who runs with deer

because I have an appetite for gods
or the man ridden by them, still smelling
of the clay that shaped him, struck with sunlight;
a man with hair longer than my own,
whose kisses taste like wild grass

I am the one who opens and is taken
but when he lets me stand again and turns
back to the deer, they will no longer know him
and I will cut his hair, because love tames–
how many wild men are broken
by the women who lie under

***Italicized words are from Enkidu’s blessing to Shamhat, from the epic of Gilgamesh, via Stephen Miller.

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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30 Responses to Shamhat

  1. boomiebol says:

    Very well done Susan…

  2. ruleofstupid says:

    Fabulous stuff Susan – you capture a wonderful tone of faery and fable – you’re versatility amazes me 😯

    • Mike, thank you. I was reading Gilgamesh last night, and was again dazzled by that part of the story. Seems to me, that priestess was much, much stronger than the “heroes,” walking for three days to get there, and then screwing the wildness out of Enkidu (took seven days, hee, hee). Don’t make women (or men) they way they used to. Absolutely HAD to write something from her voice.

  3. davidtrudel says:

    Excellent write. I’m keeping my hair long.

  4. Great write Susan–lovely and lyrical and powerful–

  5. nelle says:

    Looks like your writing day was quite productive. Well done.

  6. Powerful,,and understated erotic.This is raw woman power as we say here.

    • Celestine–thanks, and yes, that is exactly what this is. Rereading the tale of Gilgamesh through a newer, fresher voice made me see what this woman did. She was the dynamo in the epic–not so much the two-thirds-god king and his wild-man sidekick. The priestess was the dynamo.

  7. Trent Lewin says:

    Sweet end of days, Susan, this is great. Especially those last two lines, what a way to end.

    • Trent, thank you so much. I had to write this, absolutely had to–inspired by the taming of Enkidu in the epic of Gilgamesh (Stephen Miller’s version, from roundabout 2004). Strongly recommend it.

  8. Prosecognition, fabulous ! Hunger for gods– what an enigmatic truth!

  9. Fabulous! Evocation and invocation in one!
    I love Stephen Mitchell’s (?) work btw–I love his translation of Rilke and Lao Tzu.

  10. archcardinal says:

    I wrote on Gilgamesh and Enkidu on my long essay project back in school some 12 years ago. The were mentioned as poetic personages in Okigbo’s Labyrinths. They both especially come to mind any time I watch Boston Legal; Denny Crane and Alan Shore…. the story and bond between the two transcends mere words. Ultimately, Utnapishthim…. let me not blog: sublime, fantastic, my kind of thing :d

    • Oh, I am so glad you liked this, and what a wonderful topic for a long essay project–volumes more could be written about these figures–and Utnapishthim, do not get me started on that Noah-like dude, or I will be writing a blog within a blog within a blog…Merry Christmas, Obinna!

  11. George Ellington says:

    There is more than just an echo of of ancient epics in your voice here, Susan. The imagery, the passion, the desires of flesh of men and women who may never have had a fleshly existence. But I grew up, grew old with these epics, with the tales of gods and heroes and deeds of valor and arrogance and greed. It is such a pleasure for me to read how your voice wanders so intently, so creatively through so many themes. So many tales.

  12. Oh, I love it, his hair longer than yours and grass-flavored kisses, the whole thing is beautiful, but sad, the way I would feel about a tamed horse, or a baby bird whose mother turns on it once it smells of humans.

    • Yes, exactly! You got it. Made me sad to read how he was tamed, but that woman, my God, I thought she was stronger than the “heroes” of that epic.

      • So did I! She is the character I remember most vividly from EOG. Honestly, what is the phrase? Thumping, or perhaps, pounding against him? God…

        • Damn, where is my Kindle–i need to remember. Now I want to write something about not being a stranger to myth…

          • I love it when you “want to write” something! It’s my favorite, because I know I get to read something awesome soon : )

            • Aw, thanks! Hey–this has been bugging the hell out of e, and perhaps you might remember where I might have read this. It is not a Greek myth, I think it is Sumerian or Mesop–all I know it is definitely not Atlas. Did you ever, in your reading, come across a reference to a man (or god) who lifted the sky off of the earth, because people were pressed flat by heaven? I love that image, and know I have read that somewhere. Drives me nuts that I can’t remember the myth.

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