Odysseus in the cave of Calypso

“With the passage of translated Homer that we had read the day before in mind, I thought how lovely it would be to stay on here, like Odysseus in the cave of Calypso.
‘Wouldn’t it be lovely,’ Nadejda said at that moment, breaking the long silence of her pose with a friendly smile that obliterated any traces of intensity, ‘if you could stay on here like Odysseus in the cave of Calypso?’
‘That’s exactly what I was thinking.’” – Patrick Leigh Fermor, The broken road

So sweet it has been, here in this cave with you, careless of the hours, days and years which have flown by. You always knew how to turn out a room as well as transfix one, and our living quarters have had every comfort, every item we could wish for. Bunches of toothsome grapes, tubs of salt-sharp olives, amphorae from the best vineyard on the island. A natural chimney and hearth, objets d’art set into shelf-like recesses in the internal rock face, the finest wall hangings from the best weavers in all of Persia, and luxurious divans upon which we have lain in a variety of breath-held poses that would have shocked the most hedonistic of the Gods had we let them see us. But unobserved in our cave, we have loved from dawn till dusk and dusk till dawn, filling the time between our flights of ecstasy with interlocution of the most recondite kind, at one remove from the events which may or may not have been taking place beyond the lip of the cave’s entrance, out there in the ungodly world.

Over time, however, when I looked at you and saw that your attention was broken, unease began increasingly to steal over my soul, a sense that something was not quite right, that I was bewitched while you were not, that I should try to wrestle free of your spell and continue on my journey, or perish with the tasks and stories of a life unaccomplished. It wrenches my heart from its cavity to leave this cave, to part from the heady perfume of your presence, from every good, bad and beautiful thing about you. But – though I will inevitably continue to doubt and debate my actions – perhaps I ought to be as strong and unforgiving as steel, and journey on alone, and you ought to be and do so too.

My stories could all easily have begun and ended with you, in you, but the grain of sand in my soul has like the pearl in an oyster grown so large that it dictates that I must seek to lose it by travelling to other lands. I have nothing but gratitude for you, for the way you held me here in this torch-lit stronghold of love and desire and gave so freely of yourself. Though sorrow hangs heavy about my frame, there are no recriminations, for you have given me something I never expected and cannot ever now be without. You were the woman of my dreams and whatever happens, you will remain the lead actor in them. Perhaps after my travels are done, and the sun has moved around the earth who knows how many times, I will hear you call out, and find my way back to this cave, and we will pick up our loving and our endless dialogue as if it had been interrupted merely by a single day and night.

And in the meantime, these writings will stand as a record of the seven beautiful years we shared in this cave. They will stand.


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