autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Lost Pages, Lament of Anesidora

do you know what it is like to give unceasingly?

the sages praise it as if some lofty and sacred ideal; ignorance breathed as prayer, green incense that smokes as it rises, fouling walls and ceiling. it is a supreme humor that from my hand, such as this would spring. i, giver of all gifts, made into deliverer of all torments save one. or so the story goes.

would you hear the truth? then listen and if you can bear it, carry the weight that i have these many, many moons.

we all know, of course, that we, humans, are made of clay. some say ash, some say dust, particularly when comes time to forget the works of age and decay and set the evidence of our mortality beneath our feet. our clay feet. it has often been an idle debate, the matter of whether or not we bury our dead to forget them or in some odd hope that their bones will rise and make of our dirty, stained, clay feet something more precious. pearl, perhaps. or maybe diamond with enough time and weight upon our shoulders.

but it remains that we are of earth and all too soon do we return to it. this was not always the way, but i suppose after so many rebellions and usurpations, even the gods begin to set wary eye upon their surroundings.

they made me of clay, or so it is said. i was given to the world as something of a jest, a joke, a cruelty. i do not think they ever expected i should be embraced, accepted, or adored. this, an amusing thing, since the hands of those who made me were no less powerful in their delivery of me as in anything, and do not all things seek to emulate that which they most fear, admire, and desire?

man, as the gods, made of me all things, gave to me all things, and bade me in turn give all things. in some places, this is remembered, and i am called Anesidora, she who sends up gifts. in others, a simple term that is merely All Gifts, Pandora, with the connotation being more that of the blessings given me before i was set upon the world… a punishment to men, delivered by a vengeful and twisted divinity.

yet from me, through me, the many blessings of the gods came to the world. in most tales, you will find the credit given many others. such is the whim and way of fickle gods, fickle men, and fickle time. it matters not, but that it is the first evidence i set before you — that giving unceasingly is to forever be forgotten, your effort and tender wish to benefit long cast into the only place man knows to set anything he finds — the dust.

i turn tangental for a moment here, as it is another of many amusements upon olympus that man seeks to plant everything in hopes that anything will grow from it. the first lesson, too well learned and not enough understood, the pattern of so many slingings is more painful for those who would see some lasting benefit to things given, but for the most part, only merriment upon high for those who wager with one another as to the potential of man.

through me, legacy and longevity, the promise of immortality through blood, and the first inkling of something the gods themselves overlooked in their giddy play. for while they set me into the world as punishment and to imperil, it is through my presence that escape from the punitive and the perilous is found. it is a lesson the gods are  much slower to learn than the mortals, but for wily Zeus. it was he who gifted me curosity and no mistake in the giving.  in truth, it is the insatiable desire to know that has delivered or rescued humanity time and time again from itself.

still, this, the second evidence and it too, long since trampled into the cobblestones, lifted and passed along as if discovered rather than rediscovered. some drunken ass of a philosopher, dribbling red wine as he penned zephyrs of meaning and gave arrogant support to the notion that perhaps women were worth cherishing. the sound of laughter still rings Mitikas, that stoic, elevated nose twitching with phantosmia of ancient humor.

they gave to me many other gifts besides, the merry gods and goddesses. the dowry was a heavy thing. Epimetheus and Prometheus, hindsight and foresight, begged me leave it untouched. how quick they were to warn against seeking to savor gifts from the gods. it was funny to me in that moment, Prometheus of the pecked liver and dear Epimetheus, out of words, reduced to stuttering, ‘no, no, no…’ as if repetition could hope to ward us all. it is a lesson the gods themselves eschewed, and humanity in imitiation abandons at will as well, so perhaps it was more than one should have asked of a clay-footed maiden. this is what i comfort myself with in those moments when it seems heavy.

a pithos is not a box. it is a jar. a clay jar at that. hah. i remember the care with which my husband brought it home. i remember how he insured it was set in the foundational row, nestled amongst the wines and oils. i remember how he scratched and abraided it trying to make it look like the rest. Hera gifted me well with boldness, and even my stuttering husband, vocabulary lamed from too many labels, knew it was but a matter of time.

here, the third and final evidence, though likely you would not see it as such. still, truth is as it is and i tell it to you that you feel, if only for a moment, as i did… as i do.

when i finally managed to send the house away, while dear Hindsight was off looking for his lost words, i labored and lifted until at last it was before me. here, i must admit, i remembered Prometheus’ last, furious words to my husband as they pulled him off to eternal torment, “fool! he gave her to you because you would not resist her!” and i remembered as well how Epimetheus shrugged. i remembered the many ways my every effort was overthrown… music, healing, gardening… the respite, the remedy, and the renewal all derided and disdained.

the presence of that unknown dowry seemed the perfect paradoxical gift – the one thing by tradition and taboo that i could not hope to give – surely in it, the only thing i would ever truly need to give.

history says i loosed great evil and suffering in the world. such are the words of men, ready and eager to say only by woman’s hand is torment and torture known. as if all history does not quietly belie them and the ground does not send up the many bones of those who would as well in every spring.

there was only one thing in the pithos. stingy, selfish men say to this day that it is the one thing i refused to permit egress into the world… though there are a few accounts that speak more truly, even as they are mostly ignored.

you know what it is. and you know the truth of what it means. and in this quiet, where i refuse to speak the word, you have already spoken it… tasted and held it, languished and love it, thanked every possible other for it.

i do not ask that you thank me. or even that you remember me. i ask only that you ask yourself more closely, when next you would lift yourself up as superior or think to set another beneath you…

do you know what it is to give unceasingly?