Handmaid Of The Lord

(For and from Robert Stone. August 21, 1937, January 10, 2015. Now through the Lion’s Gate.)

When he began, she thought: I must do this, I must finish this, not him. She cast the compassing of her mind as high and wide as she could reach toward strength and mercy. She cried because at first, there was nothing at all. Only the blows falling.

Though he beat her beyond fear, she kept trying. Until she was awash in all the shameful juices of living and still she kept on. Though she forgot in time who he was and what the behold the handmaid of the lordpain was about she was able to think of the tears, the blood, and mucus and loose teeth in her mouth: these are not bad things, these are just me and I’m all right.

His electricity was shaking her loose of her bones. She never worried about screaming. The shocks blinded her, they were going to kill her.

He had hurt her head somehow and closed off light. She knew it would not get better and that she would never come back. She reached out as she had to the unresponding sea in the empty afternoons of the last months and still there was nothing and she cried. She could only live between shocks and the time was so precious. She was no hero.

Sometimes the best I’m capable of, she told him, is a little quiet probity. Tried to tell him.

Once she saw her fingers moving and she knew the electricity must be moving them. Her ring was gone. Then something began to come and she did not recognize it. She asked herself what it was when she had the time, in between. Whether it was inside or out there. Whatever it was, there was hardly anything else. It was greater than electricity and electricity was strong. It was stronger than the strong, stronger than love. It seemed as though it might be love. She was too weak to bear it. Too tired for it.

You after all? Inside, outside, round and about. Disappearing stranger, trickster. Christ, she thought, so far. Far from where?

But why always so far?

Por que?” she asked. There was a guy yelling.

Always so far away. You. Always so hard on the kid here, making me be me right down the line. You old destiny. You of Jacob, you of Isaac, of Esau.

Let it be you after all. Whose after all I am. For whom I was nailed.

So she said to him: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

—Robert Stone, A Flag For Sunrise

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