Illustration: Steven L. Fornal


By Jeanne Treadway

Wolves and ravens called to her. Otters showed her their slides. She was completely at ease, vitally alive and glowing with life.

I'VE REACHED MY GOAL of taming her. My god, who could have imagined it would take me so long and that we would both change so much in the process? But it is finally done and that is all that matters. I think.

Oh, you should have seen her when she was young! When I first discovered her, she was in her honeyed springtime and was so gracefully beautiful I often sat for hours simply watching her. Languidly she washed in the morning dew. Her wet hair glistened, sometimes sending sparks back to the sun. Water trickled between her lovely breasts, over her rounded belly, down her sweet plump thighs, and then puddled in small ponds at her feet. The sun would kiss her soft dark skin until she flushed pink. Then she'd array herself with countless blossoms. Some days she selected only roses to wear, sometimes only lilacs. Her favorites seemed to be the night-blooming jasmine and the exotic, enticing sandalwood. The aromas surrounding her made me quiver with delicious sweetness.

Every one of my senses trembled with a heightened delicacy; I noticed every subtle change in her. Watching her eat was nearly as much a pleasure for me as witnessing her morning ablutions. When peach juice dribbled from her luscious mouth I could barely keep myself from rushing forward to lap that nectar from the tender hollows of her neck. The sunlight dancing on her soft, dark skin was mesmerizing. The glow of the moon and stars enhanced her loveliness, as if they were a reflection of her. It was ecstasy for me and, although she never acknowledged me, she seemed to accept my silent, awestruck presence.

As she walked through her garden I would trail quietly after her, reveling in the muscles rippling through her tiger-like stride, the shadow and light accenting first this arm, then that hip. She would gather stones or feathers for ornaments. She sang with the birds and talked with the creatures skittering around her legs. Sometimes her songs would trill forth, soothing, musical, laughing, water giggling through gullies, roaring down ridges. Other times the melodies were soothing as sighs. She would play, racing a cheetah, swimming with the turtle. Wolves and ravens called to her. Otters showed her their slides. She was completely at ease, vitally alive and glowing with life. We spent many years just meandering, her graceful ways and unparalleled beauty ever drawing me towards her. I followed her every move, studying, savoring, inhaling, content to simply be near her. My heart soared and my love for her was boundless.

I don't remember when I began to worship her, but it seemed the only way to acknowledge my profound love for her. I built shrines and small temples for her. Lovely pieces of work though they were, they were not enough to demonstrate all the emotions I felt in her presence. How could I capture what she meant to me? I created jewelry and statues, using gold to match the sun that touched her when I could not. Lapis to match the skies that watched when I was away. Rubies that reminded me of her tongue. I drew images of her lovely form or stunning face, mere shadows of the exquisite beauty that nourished my dreams. I designed instruments to recreate her sounds and used them to sing my praises of her, using elaborate poetry I wrote All of these I lay at her feet, and more, trying somewhat feebly to acknowledge the unending ways in which she touched my soul.

My passion for her grew and became hotly intense. For eons, I simply couldn't get enough of her. I had to be with her every moment. I vigorously tunneled into her at every opportunity. I explored every inch of her glorious body. Our sex was hours-long, heaving and burrowing and pumping. Gorging myself, I returned endlessly to her intoxicating folds. I studied every pore; I came to know each crevice. I couldn't leave her alone. How to describe my addiction to her? She could never want me as much as I needed her. Never. Even when she gave me everything she had, opened to me completely, it wasn't enough. I had to dig deeper, mine further, uncover every aspect. If I could have flayed her, I would have. I wanted to see every vein, open her heart and see how it pumped, burrow into her brain and define her every thought. I was crazed with lust. And how I needed her to love me with the same intensity. She couldn't. I always believed she could flick me away as she would a flea, that I was only a momentary distraction. That inflamed me. I took everything she gave me and wanted more.

I don't know when my feelings changed. I don't think it happened overnight and I am not certain what caused the change. The craving grew, becoming something new and over which I seemed totally powerless. It was bigger than just lust. And it was greater than a simple need to penetrate her mysteries. Certainly, those feelings were part of this new, edgy, undefined hunger. And, I was jealous; I admit it. Others in the garden were treated as well as I was for I would often find gifts they had made for her left near her favorite tree. She seemed to love all of us equally and that intensified my passion. Whatever it was, possessiveness, jealousy, rivalry, it was clear that my love for her was changing. I did not want her with anyone else. I did not want anyone else to hear her laughter or drink her sweet nectar or eat her luscious mouth. Suddenly she had to be mine; I wanted her all to myself and I slowly began devising a plan to capture and own her.

First, I introduced fear. It took me years to convince her that one of her companions was out to harm her. Once I convinced her that that snake was evil, though, I had the beginnings of what it took to tame her. Oh the centuries I had to work on this! It was not in her nature to be afraid nor was it easy to change how she viewed herself and others. But I did it. I was relentless, and ruthless.

Then, I pressured her into believing that my love was unique, that it was better, more real, more important, deeper, than anyone else's love. What an undertaking. I built more beautiful shrines, wrote more elaborate songs, skillfully molded stunning artwork, lavishly praised her every motion, deed, or thought. Oh, you would not believe the books I created about her or the illustrations I drew using powered gold and pearls. Still, it took eternities before she cautiously began to allow my attentions to penetrate the self-contained loveliness that surrounded her.

Next, I made up rules. Rules confused her. She had her own understanding of how things worked, how beings interacted with each other, how life was lived. But I changed all that with my laws. I claimed that they came from that which had made her and therefore were stronger and more important than her own. And, I changed the rules and laws often to make everything even more confusing for her.

Still I wasn't satisfied. My thirst to cage her became insatiable. I had to possess her in every way, own all that she was, tame the very parts of her that made me love her so. For example, I could not look at her wonderful cascades of hair without wanting to cover them up, or at least pin them close to her head. Her body should be clothed, I decided, so that only I could look upon the lovely roundness that was her vast landscape. I used her love of color and form to create astounding apparel for her and, to please me, she would wear the most outrageous garments I could devise. But I was never content. I wanted her thin; I wanted her fat. I could only love her when she was clad; my lust was extinguished unless she was naked. I used my dissatisfaction to control and manipulate her. It worked. I was conquering her. And even though I no longer saw love in her eyes and she never in my caresses, I was ecstatic with my progress.

Her guileless nature rarely allowed her to see the truth behind my schemes. Periodically, though, she would understand what I was doing and, oh my, you would not believe the tantrums. Tears flooding everything; eruptions of fury hurling molten screams, hot breath scorching me; great upheavals as she tossed in bed, angry dreams haunting her. Everyone and everything around her paid dearly when she became angry with me. Her fury was enormous and deadly, crazed with grief and hatred.

Occasionally some of her other lovers would join forces with her to fight off my taming. She raised battalions who almost killed me and temporarily convinced me to quit digging, probing, tunneling, and trying to alter her very nature. I would think then that I had lost her forever and would renew my attentions. My devotion to her would give us a few calm decades, but then I'd become crazed again with my need to make her solely my possession.

I became very very surreptitious about my plans to subdue her, masking them with words that seemed to protect and praise her. I surrounded her with baubles that I had created in imitation of her treasures, pretending that the fake was more precious than the real. It was hard work. I had to use my most elaborate and ornate language, scathing sarcasm, and cutting cynicism to convince her to let me tuck this wrinkle there and hide that hill there. Eventually she agreed to let me try and with great glee I began to rearrange her every feature. I became elaborate in my praise and ruthless in my determination. I was winning. Her efforts to thwart me were beginning to wane. She was exhausted from the constant barrage. Her will was breaking; she was becoming mine.

When did I first notice that she wore the haggard look of the subdued? I really don't know, but it was pitiful, really. I even laughed sometimes when I saw her dress up her sagging breasts or tuck in her distended belly. Her cloying breath only hinted at the subtle fragrance of flowers she once wore. Her painted face only vaguely reminded me of her clear, lustrous loveliness. I knew she did it to remind me of what she had been before I started eroding her beauty, but it didn't work. By that time, she was just a faded remnant, old, uninteresting and I was bored with her. The fight was over. I had won.

When I realized I had succeeded with my lifelong ambition, I immediately understood that I had always been vastly superior to her. My eternal pursuit had helped me grow spiritually far beyond her feeble earthiness. She had always represented the dark, the fecundity; I was the light and had always been anointed as her subduer. It just took me eons to understand the depth of that responsibility, but I finally grasped the significance -- I no longer needed her.

Now, I simply don't care about her and can scarcely remember what all the effort was about. She is used up and can barely fulfill my scantiest needs. I rarely dream of her and no longer lust after her in any way. I have started studying her sister Venus. She is so beautiful, floating so many miles away from me. She entices me. I hear her calling to me. Perhaps, I'll go live with her and start anew.++

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