The Greek myth has been subject to diverse treatment by poets, with notable instances being the poems “Tithonus” by Alfred Lord Tennyson and “Tithon” by Derek Mahon. What follows is an attempt at working the subject matter into a brief prose piece.

To say I only exist in her mind is not to say I am fictional. No, this is not some sort of game. I mean that her forgiveness demands empathy, and that without her forgiveness I cease, in a very real way, to exist. Before I knew her as herself, the languid invitation of her open arms, marbled with gold, candid with marble, appeared irresistible for confession. At her shrines, improvised and longstanding alike, I became most myself because separated from former my actions and thoughts. Littered with reminders of debauchees, the prim elderly, the scornfully brusque working men, the unassuming professionals, the shrines were oppressively local, material, and current; but in them I enjoyed a genuine freedom from the circumstances of my making, all the sweeter on account of the surroundings that were decidedly not. They were priestesses I found there; they could not all be be god herself. That being the case, though, I cherish the forgiveness all the more as requiring a mutual extension of mind, from me and the goddess at once, both our intentions converging in the person of whatever priestess it was who would signal with a flutter of eyes, blue or brown, and a darkening of cheek, ruddy or fair, that the event had transpired, the gift been given. I have not asked the goddess if I am correct in my supposition; I prefer to preserve the value of the past even in light of the present.

Now there is no shrine but waking. I do not know how long it has been like this but the exact duration makes little difference. Meeting her eyes in the morning I trust, do what I can, that she knows I repent what I have done, and, in the glance she offers before she departs, one glance only, like a brutal sacrifice, she frees me from the one event, impulse, urge, action, wish, that has consumed my becoming so that I have almost ceased to become anything at all, or, more accurately, almost become nothing. Almost, because I find myself in imagining with certainty her regret, though she, a goddess, has no words for it, and maybe no thought capable of arcing towards it. There is something nonetheless that we share, a common breathing out of unison, felt in the perpetual gusts of light she provides for me. The light is various; one light runs against the grain of another and what sounds, an intermittent hum, confirms me in myself.


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