By: Stephen Faulkner
The man stood silently at the podium, looking over the massively gathered congregation of solemn, sodden gray faces before him. He coughed twice to clear his throat and then, in a commanding voice, spoke.
She was Ursa, a lover of men, so good and kind. Ursa, who spoke her name with a flick of the tongue against the teeth, lisping more her mother’s name with that extra, added a. Ursa, the seductress, they called her but say no more of that. She was, as are all women, simply a lover. Though it is truly wrong to bring all women ostensibly down to that single word which is said to have put the stars in motion. Mother Terra is said to have gone so far away, only to come back again for more of that life giving heat of love. It is said to be only love and that was Ursa’s own. Love who she would love with no regrets. And she loved.
She loved the oneness of each, of all individuality.
Ursa, on her farm, so far from real life, they say, and from the laughter. But she has her own form of laughter, merriment in her own way. Down to earth, to the soil. Toil without groans or pale-hearted self-deceit. She knew that life was long and arduous and that the laughter came from within. The soul of happiness. Down to the soil, she was. So they say, sneeringly.
She loved the oneness of the whole, with the many faceted, divergent individualities interwoven.
Doings, they said of her, which were unbecoming of a woman. So wrongly they stated that she had a new man under the sheets every night but that was not so. Once a month, though, at the onset of the bloody days and then came the new one, leaving the last to go. Happy, sated, fulfilled was he, no longer yearning, yearning and pining but fully sated. And between the quiet reveries of soul-tending and sleep came the days. The toil, hard and back-breaking work of the farm. The farm, away from the frivolity of civility, as she called it, was hers. The work, too, was hers and she accepted it as the undeniable lot of her life.
She still loved, through it all, the life and the living.
A man every cycle, I have said, though I only relate hearsay but I believe it to be true for I knew her, She spoke of “her men,” lovingly recalling them all in the order that they came. Month into month, sending each packing with sorrows and forgiveness. I don’t think that any will forget dear Ursa, as I have seen by the stacked boxes of letters in her loveroom. And none will stop loving her or chance to forget that which she had instilled within each of them. I know that I shall not. The nights between the toil, etched into pallid memory. Thinking of month into month of all her sated ones.
She loved them all and all their love, in all their many ways of expressing it.
Into the limelight, though, she was thrown. “Not right” and “immoral,” called out the witnesses without pity. Steel bars formed her home and no love thence held her for a month’s time. They, in the light of electric lit halls, called her to justice. Charges of illegal maternity were issued but waived for Ursa was only of love and not to have born a single child in all her time in love’s strong, thrusting embrace and so they called her sexless but it was not true. Ask of me and I shall tell you as shall the others who have loved her. And, with no further legal cause, they released her, silently damning her soul to hell’s brimstone. And she forgave them all in word, so she told me, but not in her heart, for do not be deceived as to think that she was not human and without faults.
Still she loved her neighbors though only according to the will of righteousness, for she knew that they were wont of love, though not totally deserving.
After such time spent in the solitude of base imprisonment she fell ill. Waning with the diminishing light of the day. Allowing needed work to go unforgivably undone. Hearing of the news of the cry of Ursa in pain, we all came to her bedside, filling the room with tears and our hopes and anemic prayers. Gifts of honey and salt. Crying with the coming night’s blanket, she blessed us all. In nomine patre et filetu et spiritu sancte. She sighed slumberously and closed her eyes.
And she loved all of these, so equally and we her, with no regrets in going, nor fears of loss.
She slept on into the night and, when the room grew cold with the morning sun, we knew. And tears flowed once more. So many grown, handsome men crying at once warmed the air. Ursa lay soaked in the tears of her lovers. One per month, year to year; three decades now, and the tears flowed, carrying her sublimely away. Somewhere she is happy. She was never less than joyous in life and surely no other way in death.
And here we all stand. They too, heads bowed, throwing flowers on her grave. Does she still laugh her trilling, wondrous laugh? Possibly. And, as I speak now does she still hold that special love for me? I certainly hope so. And does her love still live within me? Most definitely.
Still, she loved the oneness, the entirety of the whole and the life all ‘round. And our love was all for her, given, taken and cherished for all time.
Or so we all choose to believe