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Monday, May 3, 2010

Pluto: My Descent – CREDO CIX


I cross the rivers of Hades
    in sleep:
  Cocytus, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Styx,
   by-passing the blisses of Letho.
     Pluto is waiting
    black-eyed and curious.
  Few people come down this far, he comments.
   He is dark and powerful, as I expected,
     but he looks wan of skin and somewhat strained.
  Why have you come? The plumbing is very bad here.
   It is. The cavern walls are streaming
     with tears and flashing with slime
    and the usual assortment
      of creeping red-eyed monsters are
   mewling about, obviously not housebroken.
     but I am no longer afraid. This is urgent.
    I come to learn of evil, I tell him.
   I might be called evil because I looked down here before.
  So, replies Pluto. Then you have come to the right place.

      I sit on a block of stone and he begins.
    Everyone at birth has his own share of Hades,
     furnished to taste and prevailing custom, of course,
    yet caves are most popular and suitable
     as symbols of depth, dark, and unknown terrors.
  You are all united by a threading river of fire.
      Each of you receives a packing case
    shipped down to order.
     Charon has quite a sideline,
   another Greek shipping magnate!
      and in the case: -"
    He counts on his fingers.
   Rituals, murders, fears of the race.
   tortures. screams, tabus of the tribe.
   repressions, distortions, guilts of the family,
   and, of course, your personal residue.
    Quite a Pandora's Box!

    Share and share alike, a human debt
     to the generations.
   These are released, my friend, by degrees.
    Some run about the dreams of childhood,
  Some sit and whine in the dark corners of the mind.
   Did you not tremble as a child
    alone with howls and bears and gropings?
  Did you not throw shames down here yourself
   for your children's children?
     Here is your collection. Here.
    All to be faced sooner or later.
      You would not believe
   the stuff that gets thrown down here
     century after century!
  Here it festers nicely and seethes and makes power.
    But how you use this - ah, that is your affair.

  He leans toward me, glowing with emphasis.
    What you call evil is primeval energy misunderstood.
  He lets the flames of his words sink in.
   Why, I ask softly, why you?
  Pluto gives a twisted smile as if the question pleases him.
    I was the proudest. I wanted the impossible work.
   Few know that I exist or care to redeem me.
    Persephone never remembers messages!

     Would you not want to come up to the sun?.I ask.
   At times I do but it saddens me
      I grieve for months.
  Pluto, I ask, must we have this dark kingdom?

     A three-headed dog with phosphorescent fangs
   appears. I hold out my hand
    and it lays its hideous heads piteously
       Without my dark, Pluto continues,
    you would have no desires.
   No strengths in your urges, ambitions, or achievements.
     Even spirit needs my sinews for earthly matters.
  When you use me, I am called good. I become
    almost natural. But when I use you
      I am called horrible, insulting names
   which vary with religions.
  Remember all virtues carried to excess become vices.
    That can be tricky!
  Either way, I am admired, feared, or damned
      but love --?
   He gives a short laugh and comes close to me.
    Cerberus, for such is his name, slinks away
     his tail beneath his tattered legs.

    Pluto undresses me;
      I moan in my sleep.
   He put his dark hands on my breasts
    but playfully I put my arms around him
      and gave him a hug and a kiss
     which he needs more.
  He hasn't been hugged in eons!
    His voice shakes.

   Orpheus came down here once.
     Let me tell you that
    his lyre sang sweeter songs
      ever after
   because he sang of the Oracles of Night
    and lost Eurydice.
  He sang for beauty forever denied him
     trusting not that it followed behind.
  The trees, the grass, the flowers, the springs,
   even we held our breath and our tears,
   but it was not to be!
   Sing of me upon your return, I beg you,
    for I am redeemed by art.

    I dress again
   And Pluto even buttons me up the back.
    I give him a chocolate bar, which is all I have
      I pity you with all my heart, I tell him.
   I will try to understand and to love you.
  He rises then majestically and opens his cape.
    A swirl of black stars of onyx
   falls around me, and I am mortally afraid.
     Faintly I hear him singing:
    For I am redeemed in you by art, and
  I am also fond of pomegranates.

      I cannot bid him farewell
   for I am gasping up the stairs of my night
     into day.
  Strangely, I feel cleansed when I awake
    and so I reach for paper
      and set this down.
                         – a.o.howell

3 comments:

Mary Pat Lynch said...

oh, how wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Is it thus - the redeeming power of love witnessing the darkness in full awareness....

Carol Louise said...

So delicious! As Pluto in Capricorn turns my natal tsquare of Neptune conj Chiron conj Pallas in Libra at midheaven, Saturn conj Juno in Cancer in the 7th House and Mercury in Aries in the 4th into a grand cross, I can only wait, watch and surrender any preconceptions of the nature of the transformation via the shadow.

I'm reminded of the place of Judas and his betrayal in the stories of Gethsemane. Nikos Kazanstakis says that Jesus asks Judas to take on the most difficult task of betrayal because of the love they bear for each other. Without Judas, the story cannot be completed. Judas agrees knowing he will be vilified forever and he does it for love. This seems to me to be the nature of Pluto.