[Bloody River] Author's Notes: The following scene shows how The Succubus, in her quest to find a Name, undertakes a pilgrimage that makes a blasphemy of the Liberation out of Egypt. Her journey warps the geography of Exodus, making the journey across the Red Sea, across the River Jordan to Mount Sinai a thing of Damnation.

Dawn Song, Part II, Chapter One, V

      The Succubus filled cathedrals of ice with hymns to her Father.(1) The patient cruelty of her Father's Name echoed through the weave of strobing sunlight, sung by the choir of her single voice as it dislodged in sublimation a thing of purity: the soul of the child she had killed. Each flake of snow was a chamber she walked through as mist.

      She at last rid herself of the child.

      Flecks of the child's soul--remnants of what she'd not breathed into the soul of the child's mother--drifted downward through the snow. A trace of the child remained, a cast of his pain and confusion, like the wound left by the removal of a splinter. (2)

      She rose through the snow in strands finer than steam. She took the weight of smoke. Then, over the span of a translucent hour, she again took the weight of unreal flesh. Red and black upon the snow, the Succubus became. She rolled upon her belly and lay sphinx-like, holding secret her Father's Name now that she had a throat that could invoke it in vain.

      Like slow poison, the child, innocent and without sin, would have informed the traces of the soul she carried and the souls she would acquire; the child's soul would have diluted her being, if she'd not been rid of it. She had now, through the taking of her first lover's soul, a gravity she'd not had before, a solidity she could not have fathomed when she had first come to Living World. Her skin held the promised flesh of her salvation; with each soul she took, she would become more like an earthly woman, with more of the weaknesses of earthly existence, yet with greater spiritual strength. Only when she had attained that earthliness and spiritual strength, crossing the Void, could she ascend beyond the Material, and continue toward the Throne Room of God. What she'd been before her journey began had--in relation to her physical self now--the tangibility of a phantom limb.

      For she had been at the outset of her creation a thing of spirit and projected Will when she had left her father's arm. Only as her journey began did she begin the process of physical existence.(3)

      Her first moment in the Living World, she was aware of mountains lit by diffused dawnlight: indigo and black and white and grey. From this place where the sun rose to write itself upon the valley, she rode fohn winds toward midnight; Boston called her the way branches bring forth river fog, the way the shore calls tide, and the mountain draws the gaze of the traveler from the ground before his feet.

      She careened over the sea. Near a nameless shore, she fell into substance. Marveling at the sickle-shaped moon, she became aware of her heart beat as she stood within a wash of foam, her form coalescing. The beat of her heart fell in rhythm with the waves. She walked to shore, gaining materiality with each step. Foam clung within her flesh, bursting only as her skin became dense enough to break its surface tension.(4)

      She lay on the shore, upon her back.

      There, she learned to breathe. A fist of sea water lay in her heart, still as a lake in the long moments that her heart did not beat. As her heart began to beat with the regularity of a true person, it sublimated the water out of her pores.

      Deep night, in air too cold to hold snow. She walked the beach, looking over her shoulder at the water she'd quit, and delighted that she could make sand shift underfoot. She wrote her existence upon the grains.(5) Under the crash of the sea, she sang her first song. She found a piece of congealed tar at her feet, picked it up, closed her hand around it. Opening her hand, she saw the imprinted swirls of her palm and fingers.

      Her body warmed.

      She returned to the sea. The waves were kind, and parted as she walked. She let herself be carried by the water, moving formlessly as a white cap.

      As mist, between the droplets of the sea, she traversed the breakwaters of the Charles. As mist, she traveled against the current beneath the ice. Between Boston and her sister, Cambridge, she made herself flesh under the caul of ice, then punched her way into the night air.

      Surrounded and unseen, she drew herself upon the ice. Busy roads on the north bank and south. Busy bridges to the east and west. Windows, like unmoving stars set within canyon walls along the river. In blackness hiding the river's white face, she crawled upon the ice like a ruby tear.

      The sickle moon touched the building she chose to be her home. Again mist, she settled there; the water of the river fell away as she rose. Dry, without a trace of the river upon her, she touched, for the first time, her new home.(6)

      Dawn had followed her, cresting over Beacon Hill. She looked upon the risen sun for the first time--its voice touched her breast, burning sweet and mellifluous. She mourned that her Father, who had freed her from non-being, could not be with her to see this hill made afire, and this earthly city laid at the hill's foot, burning in winter dawnlight.(7)

      Thus did she, weeks ago, arrive in the place of her dominion.

      Now the Succubus lay in her jaded body in late morning sun, far from the moment when she'd seen her first dawn for the second time....




1. Cf., The Song of Miriam, sister of Moses, after the Crossing of the Red Sea.

2. The child in question is the first born son of an earthly woman named Miriam. She has functioned as the Angel of Death.

3. The Succubus is figured as a falcon to her demonic father, figured as a falconer. Dante, Inferno, Canto III, line 117, and Canto XVII, line 127. Also, Yeats, "The Second Coming".

4. See Hesiod on the birth of Aphrodite.

5. Dante, Inferno, Canto I, line 22. Dante's pilgrim also follows a progression of Sea, River, and Mountain.

6. Cf. Crossing of the River Jordan.

7. Her Father, like Moses, could not be with her at the end of her pilgrimage.

Return to the Annotations.

Return to the The Crucible's main page.

Posted 4/24/98. The text content of this page is copyright © 1998 Michael Marano and is protected under international copyright law. Photo and custom graphics by Yvonne Navarro and Webette[R] Designs. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without the express written consent of the appropriate party is forbidden. Don't swipe stuff-- it's tacky.