The Wind Collector

What does it mean to be a whole person?

He toils away
his days tossed like the dirty laundry
that’s left next to the hamper.
Not an ounce of passion
pulses through his tired veins.

His insides sink below the earth
while his muscle memory does the work

Am I of any use here? he shouts to the heavens.
The wind places itself into his net
What use am I to the wind?

 — “

-Saschia Johnson

Prompt response to Diana’s publication Know Thyself Heal Thyself

This poem was originally published on a Medium publication titled Know Thyself Heal Thyself. The highlighted sections are the lines Medium readers appreciated most.

We are Agents of Beginnings

For the conscious writer

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Image by klimkin from Pixabay

“We are agents of beginnings.” –Art as Existence by Gabriele Guercio.

When I first started writing, I wanted to hide behind my creations. I wanted to be an anonymous figure that created something powerful. For me, there was a sense of humility in creating a profound piece of art while living in secret without all the reviews and rewards. Living a private life, hidden from the world is something I do treasure. So this seemed like a marvelous path. But there’s a problem with this mindset. First, let’s talk about our new beginnings.

“Who am I?”

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as artists. This really is the bedrock of our creations. This is where writing is transformed from mimicry to individual and original works. Okay, now that we’ve clarified our foundation, let’s keep moving forward. What accompanies our who?

With our “who” we are led to our why? Like, why are we writing? Then we are led to our what? What are we doing about our why and our who? For clarity, this might be what your why looks like:
I am the representation of a strong woman who perseveres as a writer to show others the gifts and tools writing can provide.

Ok, let’s just say you know your why, how are you acting on that? Not in your art, in your life. What are you actively doing to pass on this mindset? So what I’m saying is, you are what you do. Not what you’ve done but what you do presently. The monotony, the unexpected, the things you say yes to are all who you are. This isn’t to create a sense of unforgiveness or shame but to bring awareness to your actions as a conscious writer.

I am [insert your action] because [insert why].

When you begin to explore your who, the goal is, or should be, to become aware of both your internal and your external until you overcome the gap. Freud would say making the unconscious conscious. Whatever you label it, this exploration has no end. Closing the gap between the two isn’t to reach a fixed state. It should be understood as a constant “production of presence.” According to Gabriele Guercio in Art as Existence; Hanna Arendt, a twentieth-century great thinker, argues,

for a view of the the human condition in which everyone’s insertion in the world must be understood as a ‘second birth,’ singularity revealed via praxis. This birth ‘is not the beginning of something but of somebody, who is a beginner himself.’ It occurs when one stops belonging merely to a natural species and asserts one’s own initiative.

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We are a species of new beginnings. The initial “insertion into the world” (what Arendt would like us to call second-birth,) is what some call self-actualization. Part of the second birth is accepting that we aren’t a fixed state. Which means your “who” and your “what” can evolve and change as the gap between the two closes. And as it closes you become fully embodied in your who. What a beautiful thing it can be to become an unpredictable and unique individual. Someone with their own initiative who doesn’t just go with the flow of things.

This is why my mindset shifted from hiding behind my art. I realized that my becoming is part of my novel writing. This becoming and unbecoming is what is going to make my art art. I show up with my flaws, and my mistakes, and my manic days, and my downward spirals because my awareness of all these details is going to close the gap. It’s going to insert my humanity into the world with all my “beginner” showing. It is now my intention to allow my life to compliment my art. I want to mirror something other than the outside world, I want to mirror myself.

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The quotes in this article were taken from Art as Existence by Gabriele Guercio.

Support Black Authors

For the Conscious Reader 150 Black Authors organized into genre.

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“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve explained in my previous posts, (here, and here) that I’m going to be more intentional about the books I read. So I wanted to take the time to share my journey with you guys. I’ve begun this journey by google searching “books by black authors.”

Please note: This is only the beginning, I intend to network and connect with lesser known authors as well. Moving on.

I want to read books from individuals whose voices need to be heard and understood, in order create social change. I want to keep a forward momentum on all of our efforts. I do believe that right the internet is a great place to create social change. It can allow people to search up topics without judgement. We just have to make the topics visible to everyone. Also, I have learned mostly as an author, that reading books helps me to notice similarities I have with the others, whether it be the author or the characters. I love that feeling when I’m reading and I’m like “Oh, they thought of that too!”

Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer, here is the list of lists of black authors from reliable sources.

Oprah Magazine- 44 Books by Black Authors

Ideas.Ted.Com- 62 books by Black authors recommended by Ted Speakers

Penguin Random House- 33 Books by Contemporary Black Authors

KPBS.org- 6 Books By Black Authors To Put On Your Summer Reading List

PBS.org- 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read

BuzzFeed- 42 Amazing Books Written By Black Authors

Good Housekeeping- 25 Books By Black Authors to Add to Your Reading List

Some the Wiser- My Favorite Contemporary Fiction by Black Authors

Here they are by genre

Fiction is in Alphabet order by title and Non Fiction is in alphabet order by last name.

Fiction

Adventure

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Fairytale

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Fiction

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

If I Stay Right Here: A Novel by Chwayita Ngamlana

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Domestic

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan

Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes

On Beauty: A Novel by Zadie Smith

Drama

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Literary

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Uncle Tom’s Children A Novella by Richard Wright

What We Lose by zinzi clemmons

Mystery

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley

Autobiographical

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Coming of Age

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Romance

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

Indigo by Beverly Jenkins

Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Fantasy

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Psychological

Another Country by James Baldwin

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Erotic

Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey

Historical Fiction

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Loving Day by Mat Johnson

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Travelers by Regina Porter

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettThe Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Magical Realism

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

Young Adult

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Thriller

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Gay/Lesbian/LGBTQ

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Satire

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Sci-Fi

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Version Control by Dexter Palmer

True Crime

A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo

Poetry

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow was Enuf: a choreopoem by Ntozake Shange

Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Take This Stallion by Anaïs Duplan

Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth by Warsan Shire

salt. by Nayyirah Waheed

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Non Fiction

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward

Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt

The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race by Melanye Price

Autobiography/Memoir/Biography

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell

Black Is the Body by Emily Bernard

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittany Cooper

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

The Well-Read Black Girl An Anthology by Glory Edim

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman Jr.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

The Autobiography of Malcom X by Alex Haley

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston

Some of Us Did NOT Die by June Jordan

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester

The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America by Gregory Pardlo

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Promises to Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America by Sharon Robinson

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America; Essays by R. Eric Thomas

We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Black Boy by Richard Wright

Manifesto

Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu

Christian Literature

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Self-Help

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do by Jennifer Eberhardt

The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor Wooten

Thesis/Law

The New Jim Crowby Michelle Alexander

Essays

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Women, Race, And Class by Angela Y. Davis

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Reference

Soar: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character by David C. Banks

Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Change by Stacey Abrams

Not sure what genre

A Human Being Died That Night: Confronting Apartheid’s Chief Killer by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

End of List

Save the page and make it a 2021 challenge, or just save it for future reference.

Please feel free to contact me in order to add your favorite black authors to the list. (Fingers crossed I’ll be added soon.)

The Single Story

For the Conscious Writer

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This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is an award winning author from Nigeria. She speaks in this Ted talk (which is now one of the most viewed Ted talks of all time) about how we need to be careful of the single story.

Without saying too much, I find it so commendable and inspiring of her to admit that she fell into the same flaw as the people who frustrated her most. She fell for the flaw of believing the single story.

When it comes to stories, I’d never refuse a good book that was handed to me. I read books from outside of my culture regularly. But then I thought about it and the truth is, I only read them because of school or because someone well read suggested them to me. I haven’t intentionally searched for reads outside of what’s suggested to me. Which naturally leads me into the world of dominant culture.

This talk was eye opening for many reasons, but most of all, that it is time I began to intentionally search for stories outside of American and European pop culture. Then I want to listen to what is missing from the stories I’ve already been told. I want to do this because I don’t want to limit myself from learning to accept that humans, in every walk of life, are my equal.

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Lady Wisdom

A poem

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Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Posted on An Idea (By Ingenious Piece)

The tides are rising and falling
at the bare chest of a woman
whose eyes are bandaged

She’s got arms and legs like an
octopus that stretch and wrap
and drown those who fail to listen

Not because they can’t hear her
but because they can
and they ignore her

She pulls them deep deep
down into a world, they can only
get out of when they heed to her
calling

To heed is no easy task from below.
The thick waters fog their vision.
They must chew through
their own arm to free themselves.

She stands thick with saliva
from the mouths of those whose
tongues tell tales that defend
complacency.

No flood will ever destroy her,
no flame will ever subdue her,
and no man will ever escape her
wrath.

Saschia Johnson

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She is Divine

A mirror A poem

This poem was published on the publication titled Know Thyself, Heal Thyself

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Highlights by medium writers who were also fans of the poem. 🙂

The way your secrets save
my simple fingers
and your mind moves me to
be still,

leaves me wanting more
of you

Waters crash toward the
echoes of my past,
 and
a fountain bursts forth
through my chest that
ticks
an electric beat.

This same feeling of you
this same feeling of
your distance
when I want you most

You pour your wisdom like
a bad reaction
weeping with fluid

swollen with waters
pulsing with life and death
hanging on a strand

This
is where you meet me.
This is where you make me
divine

  • Saschia Johnson
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How to Love a Symbolist Poet

Advice from a symbolist poet on how to love a symbolist poet.

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By Mikhail Vrubel — Tsarevna-Lebed_by_Mikhail_Vrubel.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12164484

These days more and more symbolist poets are stepping out and showing their true colors. Some of you may have had a loved one step into the world of symbolist poetry and feel as though you have lost touch. Some of you might have found a symbolist poet you’re interested in on your timeline. I’m here to let you know, there’s a sliver of hope when it comes to connecting with the symbolist poet of your dreams.

When you’re outside of the symbolist community, it can feel overwhelming. You might even feel like you have to compete with other symbolists who seem to know exactly what to say to your symbolist poet. Those damn poets, they are good with both words and emotions, but let me tell you, there is hope. There is a way to connect with your poet. There is more than one way to cultivate a strong connection with your poet and I’m here to share these ways with you.

First things first, since I am a female poet, this will be advice on how to connect with a female poet. I’m not a man, so I’m not sure I could write an honest piece on how to connect with a male symbolist poet.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Know that you are worthy enough for her.

Symbolist poets study humans down to the nitty gritty. They learn to feel everything because if they didn’t, they would not grow as poets. So, the first way to cultivate a strong connection with your poet, is to know that you are valuable and you are enough. Yes, poets like beautiful things, but what they appreciate more is honest things. If you’re trying to connect with your poet while having a false sense of self, she will know. Your best bet is to know you’re worthy with or without her so she doesn’t feel you’re being fraudulent right off the bat.

Be Honest.

Charles Bukowski isn’t popular among writers because he’s an asshole who slept around. Ok that might have something to do with it, but mostly he’s popular among writers because he told the truth. As a writer, he was open and honest about all of his feelings. He wrote about how bad he felt for the shitty things he did. He wrote about how empty he felt at times. As a writer, Bukowski was an open book. He was open even about something as small as the shame he felt after road rage. Don’t confuse a poet’s love for Buk’s honesty, with the idea of craving a rockstar boyfriend. This can be applied to any poet really. So the point is, just be honest about everything. Poets crave to hear you be honest about what you’re feeling.

Learn how to use your honesty.

Ok, so this is where honesty can get tricky. Some people think you should always be honest. Some people think you should not tell your wife when she looks fat. I’m here to say, you’ve got to learn how to use your honesty. Chances are, this symbolist poet already knows the truth. Chances are she values your opinion. So how can you learn to use your honesty? If you feel like you’re telling her the truth just to prove that you will, that’s not honesty. Being honest with your poet takes a lot of being honest with yourself. Self-acceptance is required in order to learn how to be honest with your poet.

Accept Yourself.

If your poet is into you or has already committed to you, it is vital that you learn to accept yourself for who you are. Even if you are courting a poet, when you don’t accept yourself, your lack of acceptance can come out toward her in underhanded remarks. You may not even notice that you’re doing it. Be aware of the parts of you that you’re ashamed of and then love those parts. Do this over and over again, so you don’t unintentionally hurt your poet.

Give snacks as gifts.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of snacks. Learn her snacks. Know her snacks. Gift her with her most loved snacks. Trust me on this one.

Show consistency.

Show up. Keep doing it for her. Do it when she’s sad. Do it when she’s happy and everything is going great for her. Show up when she doesn’t need you at all. Just show up. This will cultivate a sense of trust. Symbolist poets have an interesting understanding of the human condition. They understand the strong desires inbred in our DNA. The chance of you abandoning them are always high in a symbolist poet’s mind because that’s reality. I’m not saying they have abandonment issues but they are always prepared to be abandoned. Prove them wrong.

Listen to her.

They have thoughts running through their minds on vast levels on a regular basis. They are recalling and connecting poetry, poets, images, movies, history, occult knowledge, mysteries of the universe, serial killers, astrology, what time they should post, a lecture they heard ten years ago, last time they showered, ok you get it. So let them get a few things off their chest by listening to them ramble, so they can move on with their lives.

Let her love you.

This one is not easy. It sounds really easy. Who doesn’t want to be loved, right? Symbolist poets love entirely. They have and are always learning to accept all parts of themselves. They are constantly learning and relearning themselves so, the way they love you is going to be some of the most pure love you’ll ever receive. They aren’t perfect by any means. But chances are, they’ve already taken notes on your body language, on your choice of words, on your interests and dreams and can pretty much love you exactly where you are. It’s going to feel real weird. It’s going to feel almost unreal, like when people just give away good quality free shit. With free shit there’s always a catch, but with symbolist poets, this isn’t the case. Self acceptance is required in order to grow as a symbolist poet and self acceptance is the root of unconditional love. They are always working on self acceptance. So, if you’re questioning whether your symbolist poet will always love you, you can stop questioning, because she will always love you. Soak up her love while following the guidelines above, and you’re golden.

Respect her.

Now chances are, you could do all of these things right to a T, but if she’s not interested, and voices that to you, your best option is to respect her and let her be. Letting a symbolist poet go when she asks is one of the most divine acts of love and she will respect you far more for it.

If all else fails,

become a symbolist poet yourself. You know what they say, “If you can’t beat em, join em.”

Thanks for reading,
Your humble symbolist poet,
Saschia Johnson

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Metamorphoses III

Ode to Ovid

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This is the third part to a three part series

Read Part I here

Read Part II here

Part III Metamorphoses

Her hair weaved with precious flowers,
her skin glowing from bathing in the hidden waters.
Her eyes set upon her woodsman.
Her heart as pure as a heart could be;
she walks toward the town.

Some of the enemies who survived the war
were on their way by foot
to return to their king.
They, with bitter and tired hearts, noticed her
emerge from the woods.

In their bitterness they raped and beat
the divine woman to death. Her glow dimmed.
Her hair cut short with flowers scattered about.
The fathers grieved the loss of their daughter.
They begged Hades to do something.

Hades, who felt for the girl once again,
sent the soldier who found her body.

He was immediately stricken with grief and
wailed at the sight of her battered body
The birds gathered and mourned the loss of
their dear friend.

He buried her in the king’s garden.
The birds of the forest moved their nests
to be once again in her presence.
The flowers she picked and weaved
into her hair were dropped as seedlings
from the birds wings.
And in her honor, Hades turned the waters
to flow toward her.

The knight vowed from that day on
never to leave such
an innocent being’s side again
A day of celebration was organized
by the knight
a memorial to the divine woman
of the woods

Because of him, the kingdoms to come
would celebrate
a day in the garden
forever more.

~Saschia Johnson~

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This is the third part to a three part series

Read Part I here

Read Part II here

Metamorphoses II

Ode to Ovid

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One day, a king’s knight
entered the woods.
He fell upon the divine beauty
who had invested herself
in the woodsman.

“What are you doing living
in these woods?
Where are your clothes?” He asked.

Now, the fathers below heard
the knight’s words fall upon her
and they begged Hades to blind her
from his questioning.

But Hades felt she had been
hidden long enough
and refused their pleas.

“Naked?” She asked;
“If there was something
I needed my skilled woodsman
would have brought it to me.”

He replied, “Your woodsman hasn’t
warned you what could come
if you lived out here naked
with no protection? Do you know
our enemy is coming?
They will be charging these woods soon.”

“Enemy? I know no such thing.
My woodsman will bring
me what I need.” She returned to her
birds and flowers and wines and chocolates.

He stayed with her, remaining hidden.

While they were in the woods
the enemy fell upon the woodsman’s town.
He, his wife, and family were slaughtered.
After the massacre of that town the army
took stance and defeated them.

The divine woman awaits her woodsman,
unaware of his slaughter.

“It has been three days,
your woodsman has not returned.
What will you do?”

The fathers below cried out to Hades
“Please Hades send him away.
Don’t arouse her curiosity anymore.
Allow her to remain in the woods till she
rests in peace.”

Hades with the view of history
behind his eyes
concedes to their wishes.
The knight is summoned by honored
servants to return to the dying king’s bedside.

The divine woman, who the woodsman
never named in order
to keep her secret,
knew that her woodsman was safe.
In her bliss, she assumed her woodsman
was awaiting her to join him.
So she began her journey out of the woods.

The fathers below watched on
in horror as their daughter,
ignorant and naked,
wandered toward the massacred town.
They begged Hades once again,
“Please keep her in the woods,
please send the soldier back to her.”

Hades said “It is you
who have kept your daughter
in darkness. It is you who
begged me to rid her protection.
Now, you will see the weight of your
desires.

The divine woman with no name stepped
out of the woods.

~Saschia Johnson~

This is part two of a three part series. Thanks for reading.

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