Lilith

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Instructions: Save the panels. Print prior to drawing or process digitally or just read as you please. If you do make art on it, I’d appreciate if you’d show me. Reach me via e-mail (astrud.bernales@yahoo.com). Thank you.

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The Dream of Princess Tamatori

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Grandmother. She passed long before I was born but she’s always in my head; the picture of a mermaid, a bright pearl in the water, a shiny milkfish against a backdrop of electric blue.

Glowing in the dark
The silver lady circles
In depths of longing

Growing up, my mother would correct my fantasies of being the descendant of a sea goddess. Grandmother was a diver. Of course, she had skin that was sun-kissed if not sun-burnt. Her muscles were stiff on her legs and arms. She was neither beautiful nor delicate; an average woman with sunrise in her smiles.

The waves roll away
Glistening in golden sun
Calm before the storm

She married grandfather at 17. About the same time, the West caught up with the East and shamed divers for their nakedness. Grandfather kept grandmother in the house until the dark peeled off from her skin. The muscles chiseled in by the waves gave way to soft and pliant parts. She covered her breasts and combed away the salt in her hair.

The ama dove deep
Toba waited in silence
Patient as a wife

Ah, I imagine many nights after grandfather’s sloppy kisses, she would slip fingers between her thighs, pleasuring herself until the dead hours. Stories told she was caught by her sister with a fishmonger on her breasts. And when her tummy swelled to cradle my mother, it was said that the octopi she craved didn’t enter her body through her mouth.

Waters black under
All tentacles and pincers
The sea teems with teeth

Yes, grandfather would tell you that she drowned at sea at 24. Three days they spent looking and three nights they came home with nothing but sand and wet clothes. He’d tell you how he waited for her on the shore, but he would never tell you that the sea welcomed her as a lost lover.

Blue bubbling scarlet
The blood of Tamatori
Becomes one with foam

Art by Paul Medalla. Check out his work here.

Pity (the girls)

Pity the girls who haven’t felt like
Shedding magical virgin tears
Who haven’t felt like daughters fucked by their fathers
Whose secret caverns remain far from the waters
Parched and barren

Pity the girls devoid
Of climax as Japanese waves swallowing Fuji,
Going over the moon, pushing stars
To surrender their bodies to the sea

Pity the girls who never felt like
The earth bearing herself in her own belly
Unfeeling planets at the edge of solar systems

Ah, but pity, too, the girls
Whose eyes sparkle at the prospect of apocalypse
Their breasts shining like headlights in darkened streets
Lips drooling with lust
Pity the girls
Whose skin your mother told you to never touch

Oh, these are not places for girls
Only spaces for pity

__

I was asked to participate in this spoken word activity in the office in commemoration of International Women’s Month. On the day of the event, I was drowning in deadlines so what I did was pull up a long-sitting draft in an almost forgotten folder and crafted an ending.  

The Dream of Madame X

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These notes were found in a brown suitcase in one of the long-abandoned offices of a known doctor of the mind, whose name we have taken the liberty to keep to ourselves. The patient, a woman whose most peculiar confession you will read in the English transcription below, remains unidentified. 

“Oh, doctor! I’ve been having the wildest dreams. Just the other night, I dreamt that I was on a couch, very much like this one. Yes, I distinctly remember the rub of this fabric on my skin. And I remember finding my clothes a puddle on this very carpet.

On top of me was a man, doctor, the same height and built as you. He was as naked as I was, with lips pressed on my neck.

Forgive me for not blushing, monsieur, but I’ve been sharing with you the most intimate of my secrets for months now. I cannot even pretend to be embarrassed, especially given how bizarre this dream was.

But where was I? I was pinned down on this couch by a man, yes, and I was caught by surprise, of course. Imagine my shock, doctor. Being intimate with a man not my husband—what a scandal! I tried pushing him away in vain. But it was not long until the heat of his skin and the smell of his hair awakened desires I felt like I had not long had. The way his fingertips made contact with my most sensitive places— What a man he was! And I never felt more like a woman until then.

But this carpet—this design, this exotic pattern—it caught my attention and reminded me of a trip with my husband, God rest his soul, to Persia. We were a young couple under the haze of early love. And in one of our trips to the local market, I remember coming across this artifact. I swear on Mr. X’s grave that this is the same one I saw on that trip. Look at this design, doctor. Wouldn’t you agree that the maker would not have been able to replicate it had he tried to?

It was so many years ago, long before consumption claimed his body. I remember asking him to buy this carpet as a wedding gift. Did I mention it was our honeymoon? But he declined, harshly, saying that the carpet only reflected my provincial taste.

Oh, forgive me for straying too far from my narrative, doctor. You must think me too much of a scatterbrain, telling stories that have nothing to do with what my appointment is for. But in my dream, these were the thoughts that ran in my head about ten minutes under this man who was making love to me the way my husband never did.

So there I was, locked in the arms of an unknown lover, dreaming about Persia with my dead husband, when his speech broke the harmony of our moans and grunts. “Is this what you want, mother?” he said.

I was horrified at the prospect of having coital relations with my own son, but before I could push him away in disgust, I realized that I was not in fact the intended recipient of his query. That was when I noticed a dark figure in the corner of the room, this room, come to think of it. There was a woman sitting on that chair.

At this point, the man on top of me held my neck in a choke and I had to suppress a cough. Pinned down and strangled, I looked at the woman whose legs were spread open. It was clear to me that she was, well, pleasuring herself. Do you understand, sir? Her hand was—

Pardon my vulgarity. These are not the words of a lady, I understand, but this was my dream. And as I stared into the eyes of this woman, the mother of my lover, I felt sick at the pit of my stomach. I dare say, even the women in brothels will find the experience of being caught in the act of making love by the mothers of their partners repulsive. Even more so, if said mother thought her voyeurism particularly stimulating.

But after the alarm faded, intrigue settled in and I found the way she fingered her flushed folds most entrancing. She called the name of her son over and over between her multiple spasms. And I watched her, completely neglecting the man whose manhood was pressed between my thighs. At a certain point, I was even quite sure that there was no one else in the room except the mad woman and I.

The more I watched her, the more the space between us vanished until I was face to face, eyes to eyes, with her person. My faceless lover, I saw sprawled by her feet, leashed like a loyal dog. I observed as she placed one finger and then two in her body. And she watched me watch her.

Alas! The key reached the plate, sir, and I awoke most perplexed by the perverse nature of this dream. I find you now taking notes, doctor. Perhaps you, with your theories on the psyche of man, with your scientific insights, can enlighten me with your brilliant mind and point me to the whereabouts of my dress.

October 13, 19—”

 

*Image by Paul Medalla. Check out more of his awesome work here