‘My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.’
-from Hesiod’s Theogony
I did nothing to deserve the way he treated me. All that nonsense my children talk about endlessly – a wedding, a war between titans and children of titans and all for our sake, him and me, heaven and earth – don’t believe a word. All that really happened between us was just the argument that broke out because we hadn’t quite invented marriage so we couldn’t quite divorce when he invented infidelity.
Here’s the true story. I was asleep in a field. Goodness, I was the field. He came by like a cloud over me. His shadow passed over me like nightfall. He looked down at my beauty, at how beautiful I was as a field, naked and asleep with nothing to cover me. He wept because I was so beautiful. Then he did more than weep tears. That’s what woke me up.
Back then, two lovers just allowed themselves to be in love. This is the truth about marriage: we invented divorce long before we invented marriage.
Think about it, and you’ll know it’s true. She and he move in together. Before this they both have their own things. He has his things, and she has her things, and they are separate piles of things. Then, they move in together. The piles of things, and the children, all get messed up because everyone loves each other and wants to share their things with each other. The two lovers are feeling generous. But, they were innocent and did not sign a prenuptial agreement because these things had not been invented, yet, and there was no need for a public ceremony because there was no need for any witnesses to the love. It just was.
I woke up and he was over me, and the stars in his hair and the way the light shone through his marvelous form was like nothing you’ve ever seen in your life. It was certainly the only time I had ever seen it, before or since. No one even thought of remembering who was responsible for what in the affairs of our household. We just did what we wanted to do, and if it was a mess later on it was all just stuff we didn’t really care about because we cared more about hurting each other at that point, and breaking stuff we knew the other wanted.
And, this is how divorce was invented in all that mess of tears and missed phone calls and blame and gifts sent back and gifts destroyed and all the messy – pardon me for speaking so Cthonically – truly fucked up shit that happens in the end: my children – our children, all of them, but these in particular who are my children loved me more – caught him running around with our best and brightest chariot and our best and brightest daughter, doing untoward things to my baby girl, and she was letting him do it because she loved her father and no one had ever taught her the boundaries that we had to learn later after we got sick of dealing with all this trouble – so don’t judge her, if anything it was his fault, and mine, but mostly his, because I was just lying around when he came upon me, and I was just lying around afterwards not knowing any better while he was scheming. My swift-footed children, some with more arms and legs than could ever be fought away even by ethereal men, and my ugly children with tentacles that harden anyone to stone in a blink, and my vengeful children who sleep in my breast and relentlessly seek the true nature of unjust hearts – all of them found him with our best chariot, leaving me alone down here for my bright-eyed, beautiful daughter. They were trying to escape, him and her. Our whole family was too much for them both, with our tusks and tentacles and jagged flesh. All of my beautiful, hideous children were too much. He was a man whose head was always in the clouds, wanting idealized things. I had been trying so hard to keep him involved with us, and to pull him down to our level, where the muscle meets the mud, and there he was with our most beautiful daughter, trying to flee. So my children caught him up, and her, and there was a divorce. If you want to get technical, it could be considered a war. There was certainly fighting, and tears and bloodshed, and the dividing and conquering of our shared territories. All’s fair in love. So, we, right then, we invented divorce long before anyone thought of a marriage.
Anyway, all the stories you hear – all of them – are wrong. Especially about me. I was just lying there minding my own business when he wept over me. I woke up. I was so ashamed by my own nakedness, and how he was crying over it, that I pulled a long green robe over my body. He did nothing to cover himself, because he was a man, and you and I both know what he was about to do.
Then, we had children. Then, we invented divorce. After this, when the blood had seeped into my skin, and he was still looking down on me with thunder in his heart, we all decided there ought to be some kind of ceremony before all the fighting, where everyone could take sides – his or hers – so that everyone would know how things stood if it got ugly. If the sides were pretty even – which was best – no one would kill anyone or imprison them deep inside their mother’s heart on account of the divorce. I don’t have to tell you how awful it was when so many of my children took his side, and I’m stuck down here unmoving. I would have liked to know that sooner, so it wouldn’t come as such a shock.
He’s up there, right now. He’s looking down at me all the time. He regrets it; I know. He cries about it constantly, but I just throw his tears up as high as I can push them, and I roll those tears around where he can see them, and take them back when they burn away. I don’t want to take in his tears if I can avoid it.
Deep inside of me, the good children that took my side are forever pounding and howling at my bones. I have a giant heart. I have the largest heart in the world because my heart is the whole world. I’m all heart, and don’t let him or his tell you any different. I have this huge, huge, red heart. And, it’s so hot. It has so much love that it burns hot.
Listen to me going on. That was all so long ago.
I can’t believe anyone even remembers it anymore, to gossip about it.