The Thousand Rooms of Her Soul
The Thousand Rooms of Her Soul
Eden grows on Eve’s foothills where ambient sunshine beams down on ancient tea rooms in the sky. You browse the library of the Milky Way whose books are stars with gold leaf pages that have not lost their luster sealed in Alhambra centuries of Maimonides who is your Sephardic Sufi. I watch you in the court of Alfonso the X where you are a female troubadour lost to the mists of time.
You introduce yourself as Comtessa. The tongues you speak come from another rapture whose muse gives you the songs you write that make the green fruit from the tree of life blush into sun-ripened apples ready to be plucked. But the time has come for you to slumber with your sisters in music the Trobairitz who sleep by day to bring starlight melodies for the king by night.
I walk the storied halls of the Alhambra gazing at mosaics embedded in the walls of time. I see you again, my gypsy woman. Your dark eyes gaze through your black velvet veil in the trembling moment of awareness. You sing whispered yearnings in the Moorish palace. Your fingers strum the lute, like a lover deep in mystic fervor. Your jade inflection ignites into a fiery necklace of a song. Your voice is a fragrant, come hither. Galician lady of the night, you pour burgundy love lilt into my thirsty heart.
Women, with henna illustrated bodies, dance to a drumbeat syncopated with their rhythm of desire. Their dark eyes burn like candles in a temple of sensuality. Yet I only have eyes for you my love. But I am only a servant of King Alfonso X, not worthy so much as to pick up the crumbs under thy table. You have bigger dreams of a Byzantine prince whose gold ring is worth all my life savings.
My gypsy woman wrapped in your shawl, you look to the east. Your smile radiates love light in the soft embers of sunset on an isle of peace.
You bathe in the fountain of lions to wash away the dusty memories of love gone wrong on trails best forgotten. Under the gas lamplight, you are an icon of womanhood more lustrous than any earthly art. My thirsty eyes drink you in.
I offer you Sufi wisdom in the “Rubaiyat” book.
You hold its tattered pages like a treasure from heaven and read with a hunger for the beauty of its words.
We sit together in the court of lions. But you are naked and shivering. So I offer you my cloak. Like a fiery desert lioness, you say, “I believe men and women are equal.”
To which my bewildered words spill, “You look uncomfortable.”
You hand me back the Sufi book. “I have to be careful because my heart has been broken many times.” And you follow your path to another room.
How can I span the chasm between us? I find you fanning yourself in the courtyard of the maidens. And I take off the gold ring my father gave me. I say, “Here, take this. But may I have just one night with you? Just one evening and your passage to Constantinople is secured.”
“I thought of taking you as my lover. But such ideas are banished from my mind now. How could you expect me to sell myself for your ring? Had you offered me a wedding ring the outcome might have been different.”
“The ring is yours. I will never see you again.
There is nothing I expect in return. You will need this when you reach the gates of Constantinople. The gatekeeper there requires a fee.”
Like the earth embracing the sun, you draw a circle around me with your hug. Your eyes open up to vistas of the Hagia Sophia and your smile turns into gilded sunshine.
Our waltz of words enchants me on our last night together where I lead you through the Alhambra bathed in the Moorish night. But your soul holds a thousand such rooms which are far more exotic and beautiful than even this palace with lute players to welcome the midnight magic. I lead you through the room where the Sultan’s concubines bathe and shed smoky tears.
My parting words are, “Let me tell you a story of devotion. This is the tale of a wife who risked the lash by dancing naked in the bazaar when rain poured from the parched sky but whose husband took the whip for her. The husband was me from when I lived among the Moors. Such strange customs they have in my native land.”
“You are bragging. I was considering inviting
you along with me to Constantinople. But such
vanity has no place in my life.”
“Alas, may I sing to you one last song for the road?”
“What tune do you have in mind?”
“Martin Codax, ‘Song for a Friend.’”
“Oh, you have won my heart. I live and breathe Martin Codax.”
“It isn’t safe for a woman to travel unaccompanied in Byzantium.”
Rowena replies, “Then accompany me.”
“If you need a troubadour then I am your man.”
“Let us join hands in our search for what is virtuous and true. Unlike the maiden in the song, I will not pine for you in vain. Please change the final lyrics to reflect the reality that you will stay by my side even into the great beyond.” And so my voice becomes a lute of love.