On Wings, Waves, and Quivers

A selection from "Our Storytellers."

I stood on the cliffs of Santorini, gazing upon the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Mounds of green pushed up out of the sea, and slowly these islands formed themselves into the shape of a woman. From my vantage point, the two closest islands looked like breasts. Farther out, crescent-shaped islands made her thighs. In the center, a circular island became her belly. The view was so beautiful it carried me away. Waves of foam washed over the woman below; Aphrodite’s presence was powerful. Her voice whispered in my ear like a kiss. “See how much joy she gets from her lover, the sky. Those frothy waves are the juices of her pleasure and from them I was born.”

“Wow,” I thought, “the Goddess of love,” as I both heard and sensed her offer. My heart leaped through my head. Aphrodite herself wanted to take over my body, and I let her. Immediately, I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. My fears disappeared. Energy charged within me; intentions so powerful, they lifted me above mortality.

Aphrodite transformed me into a white bird with a beak of pure gold and sapphire eyes. Lovely fringed wings sailed me into clouds and floated me down over the earth. I felt currents of pleasure as the sky blew warm winds across the lush green islands. It turned into a game where I beat my wings against the wind but then slowed to feel its force take hold of my ruffled body and push me down hard. Ascending again to soaring, above curly green forests, passion burned within me. I wove my way through the tops of the trees and rested for a while on a cool branch.

Down below, Artemis was hunting in the woods. She caught a glimpse of something spectacular in the canopy above. Her arrow shot upward through the treetops and struck my breast.

I fell all the way to the forest floor and settled on a soft bed of moss. Artemis rushed over to the spot where she thought her bird had landed. What she saw amazed her, for there lay the Goddess Aphrodite. Artemis reached to retrieve her arrow, and I slapped her hand away. “You nocuous crommyonian sow!” I spat at her.

Silently, Artemis reached into her quiver and grabbed a flask from its side pocket. She uncorked the bottle and held the flask out to me, her sharp features rearranged in apology. I nodded, allowing her to dribble the ambrosia through my parched lips. The liquor’s effects dulled the pain when Artemis extracted the arrow from my bosom.

Awakening slowly, feeling the cool metal railing in my grip, I sighed. “Oh, sweetheart, I can see why the virgins worship you.” A laugh bubbled up behind me. Its originator pressed against my back and arms encircled my waist. “I was having a daydream,” I explained, embarrassed.

“If you only knew how many women have told me that,” she whispered in my ear, hugging me tighter, as I struggled to remove myself from her embrace. In spite of all our high ideals, no woman wants to hear about the other ones. “You’re the one that I want, though. I’ve stopped hunting.” So I turned to kiss her throat, breathed in the salty, sunny smell of that beautiful place. She took my hand and we began to walk toward Oia.

Abbie Hill has been a member of Madison’s LGBTQ community for 40 years. In 1977, with three business partners, she opened Going My Way, a downtown gay nightclub. Abbie was a founding member of Flaming Dykasaurus, currently works for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and has been attending the LGBTQ Narratives group for about a year and a half.

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