The Annunciation *
You shouldn’t believe everything you’re told. The reality of it is not what you think. It’s not something people in polite company should want to talk about, never mind tell their children. It should have never been made into some kind of fairy story.
There was no agreed Hieros Gamos and no heavenly blessings laid brightly upon my head.
If the truth be known, I was a girl of twelve. Twelve. How could I consent? How could I understand what it meant?
I was asleep on my bed, laid innocent in the darkness, dreaming as children do. Then for some reason, even now I am not sure what, I woke up to see him standing there. He stood in the shadows, so still, a man in pale linen, watching. At first, I thought I was dreaming, but it was no vision, no fantasy. He moved faster than the breeze and was upon me before I could escape. I tried to scream, to call for help, but he stuffed my mouth with white feathers.
When he Penetrated me, he tore asunder my betulot, ripping me open for the world to see. My soul shattered and fragmented, in that very moment, I dissipated. Hiding for centuries in the shards of Other.
He said it shouldn’t have been like that. He said I should have submitted willingly and with Grace. He said I didn’t deserve the honour that had been given to me. I told him I didn’t want it. He snarled. His lip curled and brought an averse cruelty to his uttermost beauty. He said it was my own fault, he said he had to Overshadowed me. He said girls like me should be grateful. He said we never were.
Afterwards, he slept, exhausted by his tribute, while I lay upon the dank remnants of my broken seal and his celestial shpriz. Rivers fit for Babylon flooded out from me, before pooling upon my belly and from thence parting Fourways. Broken boundaries that could never be mended.
As the Morning Star rose, he disappeared, leaving a bouquet of Broken Lilies at the bottom of my bed. Their piercing stems forever directing the gaze of men to my humiliation.
The ashes of Tamar’s were not for my head and unlike Dinah, I had no brothers to claim back my asset.
Who would have believed me if I’d said I’d been plundered by a Virtuous Brother of the Fallen?
After he’d left, I scrubbed myself clean until my skin bled. Raw outside as in. I cried and laughed uncontrollably. I thought if I pretended it didn’t happen it would go away, but I couldn’t get it, get him out of my mind. I was scared to sleep in case he came back. When I fell into a fitful slumber, he returned in nightmares. I felt him again and again, as he wrapped his wings around me, his hands touching and his fingers entering places they shouldn’t.
I took a needle and scored my arms and legs, thinking the pain would take away the agony I felt inside. Nothing worked.
Then came the nausea, the sickness in the morning. Bile would erupt from my empty stomach, burning like a flaming sword as it rose, bitter.
When I could no longer hide the changes I fled to my cousin’s. I thought she’d understand, for it was known within the women of the family she’d suffered the same.
It seems Divine rapists have no respect for age.
I’d expected she’d offer me solutions, be that herbs or sanctuary, but instead, she counselled me not to rock the Ark of our Covenant. She told me to return home, face the music and do my duty. She said I was to keep my mouth shut, for what good would it do girls like us, to tell the truth.
As my shame grew heavy and unsurmountable, my breasts, like Abishag’s gazelles, rested heavily on the mount of his creation. And I wept. They say I sang Magnificently, but they lie, for it was a Lament, conceived in Terror and one I was unable to confess.
©Shullie H Porter 2022
* First published in Cauldron Anthology Issue 13 The Maiden, 07/07/2021