The Virgin

By Lana Spendl

          This piece first appeared in Prick of the Spindle (Issue 8.2)


Walking the Rose Hill Cemetery on that overcast day, I saw a stone virgin standing tall against the sky. I had been strolling and stopping and reading names and dates and counting headstones on family plots. I had come for a respite from myself — the sensual note my voice hit among men, the strict posture I maintained in the office chair, the long hands that moved in circles as I spoke, my silver watch — yet I had grown impatient with the cracked walkways and the scented trees in heavy bloom. But the virgin with her stone hands opened a wound deep inside, a wound I did not know was alive. I thought of loss and of being lost, and I envisioned a crowd of people tied to one another by strings of love, and suddenly the strings snapped and snapped and snapped and snapped. Freud maintained, I remembered then, that the ego detached itself after loss of love, that it retreated its feelers inside for some time. I thought of animals holding wounded paws to their chests, afraid to touch them to new objects, afraid to place them on the earth. The belly of the sky rumbled then, and my eyes wandered to the trees and clouds. A wind blew cold from the south. Reluctant, I headed for the cemetery gates, wishing that I could keep this sadness by my side. I wished that I could cherish it in a velvet bag. Then I could pull it out in room corners and stores and finger its undulating slopes and remember that it was the fluid movement behind my rigid, everyday smile.

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