sightless passion

a creature calls to us from a chamber inside our heads.

the deadly masquerade. movement of eyes under shields over crowds of the wanton. i see you, forgetfully spiteful, intently unaffected. i’ll remain anonymous until you remove your ego from your gut and your eyes clear of sightless passion.
i lost it in the fold, the cold ground sunken. from a time i’m not a part of, i imagine what it meant to love him. i knew you, your name etched beside me. lingering voices, i hear them; judging with envy. we can fall in love, often with what we do not see; why not, for our own fear, with what does not breathe? only now, i groan for the end of my days, as i catch you in a glimpse, and you spin in your grave.
emergence from the quiet; pangs of a survivalist’s world, echoing in the light that comes fogged with more questions. how is it I am guised under artificial beauty when this is where I came from? a place where beauty was first defined.
i can’t forget the way you touch me. when you’re faceless and the walls fall down like cardboard. the closed room opens to leaves beneath my back and branches that tear through the ceiling. your hair is long enough to touch my lips, but it changes, slowly shortens, ages, until i can see your eyes. and i wake, wanting you.
these transformations of once-imagined things. a creature calls to us from a chamber inside our heads. captive, until it speaks and convinces us to let it roam.
a ruthless spirit in an unforgiving world.

 


 

Marissa-CastingSpells-1CMarissa-Smoke-DistresedMarissa-B&W-editedMarissa-EyesOpen-StampMarissa-Leaves-ObscureMarissa-Portrait-GrainMarissa-CastingSpells-2b

 


the model     //      @peeksters       //       orlando, fl
art/photography account    //    @archaicmalady
personal account      //      @belleathena
bring me to the archives

 

noshi

A tale of the Iswa, “the people of the river,” narrated by a young boy whose family takes solace in visions and faith to bring their father home from war.

a short story | historical fiction, native american, literary
This tale explores the role of nature and fantastical elements in Native American story-telling. Set along the Catawba River in 18th-century North America, the narrator is a small boy whose father has gone to war. His village; the Iswa tribe, has been in a continuous state of unrest with the Iroquois Nation of the North. After countless raids and many dead, his family is fearful that Noshi–his father and possibly the last hope for the Kawahcatawbas to survive–will not return, taking solace in visions and faith to bring him home.

photograph by Vijay Somalinga

i.

The Seneca have been raiding our villages for decades.

They come in the silent night when children sleep to cricket symphonies. They wake to their mothers’ screams and their fathers howling into battle.

They come in the absence of our warriors, which dwindle in numbers from the white man’s fever. I am not old enough to fight, but I am wise enough to see that the Kawahcatawbas, the people of the river, will not defeat the Iroquois Nation of the North. The Iswa promised the settlers we would stay in our territories along the Catawba River, the Iroquois to remain beyond the Potomac, but they come through the trees, emerging like the otter to the bank from the gleaming river.

Noshi has been missing for months; one of our village’s strongest fighters and my mother’s life mate. Viho, my older brother, looks after her, washing her hair in the Catawba. He stares wide-eyed like the owl through the night.

My mother is Muna, an overflowing spring. She sees visions of our father: he is dragged through the dry, frigid dirt of the northern coast, neither dead nor living. She rocks back and forth by the fire, farming the flames, holding the infant Shilah as she sings.

Our sister, Nova, hums beside her. She believes father lives, and she has dreamt of Noshi: he overpowers the Seneca warriors and dives into the Potomac under a veil of the first rainfall, dodging a net of bullets and arrows as they curve behind him.

ii.

Muna begged him not to go; to protect the widowed mothers and fatherless children of the village. He refused, holding her at dawn in his ruby-scarred arms. “We are Iswa,” he said. “We will fight to keep blood from the river. Theirs will taste like our dead, and they will drown in the tears of our widows.”

I had sat upon the skins and furs laid out along the dirt, scratching at a stain of blood not left by animal, and cried. Mother picked me up, and my legs fell below her tot belly, Shilah just a promise then. Viho stood beside her with broad shoulders; without emotion. Nova wrapped her arms around our father’s waist, her coo low. Noshi kissed each of us that day, twice for mother, one for her lips and another for her belly. He left, his eyes kept to the land. Nineteen other men followed him, some older than he, and a few even younger than Viho.

Our father’s shadow flickered through the trees until he disappeared into the blinding daylight. We resumed our strength; we chanted nightly to Manatou and His Son to bring Noshi back to us. If he did not return, Viho would become the village leader, and I would become our family’s protector. Without a warrior to teach us how to fight, the Seneca might come to butcher our mother, our sister, and our baby brother before our eyes. Then, the Kawahcatawbas would be forever lost; returned to the soil like the harvest.

iii.

The images haunt me, and I disguise my fear, playing with mother’s hands as she rests from skinning rabbits. She loves us, but she is losing herself with the eastern wind. And it carries pieces of her far from the Catawba.

Once she finally sleeps, Viho comes to me with roasted meat, a rabbit leg coated in spices given to us by the white men. It is charred by the fire. He tells me he has seen father.

My heart races and I stand: “Where is he, brother? Where have you seen him?”

Viho takes my arm, bringing me back to the ground, and lifts the leg toward my mouth. “Eat,” he orders. “You will need your strength.”

I do as I am told, taking large bites of the stringy texture, swallowing and gulping so that I can receive my reward. Where is our father? Where is Noshi?

“I have had a vision,” Viho begins.

I shake my head. Both Nova and our mother have had countless dreams of father, none have come to pass.

“No,” he grabs my arm, squeezing me tightly. “I have seen father, like the elders do in the smoke. I have seen Noshi in my mind. He killed seven of the Seneca. They were accompanied by a white man with spectacles. He wore shoes. The white man fell to his knees and bowed to father. Father let him live.

“But then, he was surprised by more Seneca warriors and made to surrender, his comrades dead along the forest floor. He was bound and starved, walking hundreds of miles from the colony of Carolina to the front of Iroquois. They were going to burn him, maybe feast on his flesh!”

I coughed, gagging at the thought of that horrible ritual: a champion’s trophy in warfare.

Viho patted my back and resumed, “Do not fear, Muraco. Father unties himself as he is brought to the altar! And darts faster than any stag. He dives into the river, like Nova said, unscathed by the bullets and the arrows. He reaches the other side and looks to his captors. He howls vengeance to the stars.” Viho mimicked the howl, clenching his fists and smiling, skin caught in his teeth.

“He is coming home?” I ask, shaking Viho’s forearms, tears filling my eyes with both pride and want for my warrior-father.

“First, he must strip the scalps of every Seneca he sees from there to the Catawba, clothing himself and taking provisions. Then, he will not sleep. He will move on, taken over by the spirit of war and find the bodies of the men he first devoured in fair pitched battle. Then, he will dig them up, take their scalps, and burn their remains so that their awful flesh cannot become one with the earth. Only then will he come home.”

Viho and I sat in silence. I imagined father’s journey, the blood on his hands, and the fire in his heart. Viho smiled to himself, certain that what he had seen was real.

We could not sleep, not now, not after this prophecy had ignited the air, its images dancing in the smoke. We would not tell anyone, not even Nova, in fear that we might wait for a deadman. His ashes could scatter the grounds of the north, unable to speak true tales of his passing; unable to reunite with mother in the afterlife, and we would die counting the suns.

iv.

As the light broke over the river, mother awoke, disappearing from our beds. She walked toward the water without speaking. I watched her, my eyes heavy and stale.

Her stare was drawing a figure in front of her, a man she longed for. She plucked him from the smoke; she made him real. She stepped into the cool rushing water, the pressure of its life carrying her forward.

And then, dark hair emerged from the surface. She knelt into the river and let out a cry of disbelief. Our father rose to her lips like a great spirit of the river. He embraced her, lifting her up and leaning back into the water. They both submerged, wrapping around each other as the river carried them off–two fish following each other’s tails.

My brother and I ran to the water’s edge, scouting downriver for the bobbing heads of our mother and father.

But they were gone, and the Seneca would come again.

THE END


Learn More Links:

The Catawba River

The Catawba People

the unfinished masterpiece

this is existential fodder–when do artists decide their work has reached its potential? I’m resolving that they don’t; I’m absolutely certain that the feeling must be complete, not the work itself.

finish me | nicely put, it is a work-in-progress


photograph by Nia Garza

I used to think it was out of habit to leave things unfinished. Lately, however, I’ve been considering that maybe I do this because I like it. I’m not sure if it pleases me, but there is some kind of beauty; a forbidden excitement, of sorts. We are told as children to finish our plate, our homework; to pursue and eventually desire completion. Isn’t that counterintuitive? We are made to feel guilty of the unfinished—our lover, on the bed, starving, and therefore, unsatisfied. No, dissatisfied with us—When did Incomplete begin to equate lack of skill, interest, or care?

I sat down to write this thinking it would only apply to my paintings. Then I felt my nails scratching the keys and realized, no, it is not confined to one medium. Everything I do is incomplete: relationships end too soon; some, gone on too long, made to feel overworked and therefore unfinished in an entirely different sense. To be finished is to be terminated, made to feel some kind of closure with the project or the person. To be incomplete is to be partial, aware that there is something missing. I am unfinished and incomplete in so many ways.

You commented on my eating habits: “It seems you never finish your plate, and not because you don’t like the food.” I hadn’t thought of this ever before. Perhaps, you are responsible for me realizing this practice–(I’m eliminating the word “habit” altogether)–and I should thank you for revealing a part of myself that was hidden and always present, like my own nose.

It is my writing, too. I have so many ideas which I’ve become so accustomed to spawning, I don’t even bother to jot them all down anymore. If the itch becomes constant or repetitive, then I address it, but otherwise I know my curse will consume anything I set out to do. And my novel, what a feat it has been—I’m determined to finish it–but that is such a relative term! If I finish it, it will remain a part of a conversation: explaining what I do, that it is alive in the mind of the reader, future edits, always wondering if words should be changed or if the message was naïve. “Charlotte” was like that. It came to a point where I just wanted it off my mind and out of my hands. Those things all feel unfinished, as if the inkwell and the drying is just another step to an endless list.

I don’t take on too much. I don’t think I take on enough. And as I’m sitting here, enjoying the day, dreading the continuation of this chapter, trying to remain positive in the confusion and divinity of humanhood, I come to love the painting unfinished; I come to find a breathy excitement in the things that cannot be totally complete. Because–this is existential fodder–when do artists decide their work has reached its potential? I’m resolving that they don’t; I’m absolutely certain that the feeling must be complete, not the work itself. The strife and pursuit of art and expression is completely insatiable, and humans—we are like our art—there’s never enough time before we die,  never enough love from our spouses, nor enough peace and goodness in the world: we want it all. We want to represent all, keep all in the conversation; never leave a man or concept behind. And in the end, we do; we will; there’s just no stopping it.

So, we might as well enjoy the unfinished, the incomplete, in these moments of water and pigment on a page not fit for these elements. Are any of us fit for our own humanity?

hedonistic motions

freedom in unconventional faith

freedom in unconventional faith


photograph by Nia Garza

we set boundaries for ourselves, for good reason or fear, but what i built, that encroaching barrier between myself and the lot of you, has become permeable; as a veil that could be seen, hazing my grip on the outside. claws formed by entrapment–this is what I felt there, entrapped and kept to sculpture–and the lace became torn by the desire to expand and be boundless.

there is always an exception to the rule; a line that is just too flimsy or tempting to resist crossing. there exists the indisputable, the Ten Commandments of our temple, if you will–finally, i acknowledge it; that perception of shared reality, where accountability and pressure spills over into blind obedience–but i have been immovable, hardened, and abstractly rooted in some experience or another.

but this, this is not a motion of self-government, but rather a declaration of chaos: freedom can mean being free from oneself, where we step outside the confines and sway nude among the animals, even just for a moment.

satanists–if you know anything about them–in their recognition of the base desire, of how we have willed gods into existence as a reflection of our own egos, and the oversimplified idea that we are our own gods; take what you will. please note, knowledge of something does not make you a part of it. practice and stained hands, that is the pairing that brings us into the arena of identity. secretive, yet i’ve told you everything and you haven’t noticed, there are infinite meanings and slim chances for true objectivity.

i mentioned this would be unrestricted.

belle, reimagined

“Musings” is the result of a creative metamorphosis. This is my capsule portfolio of all things that inspire, perplex, and linger. Unrestricted.

“Archaic Malady” is the result of a creative metamorphosis. This is my capsule portfolio of all things that inspire, perplex, and linger. Unrestricted.


photo by Nia Garza

I first tried out the alter-ego of “Belle” on social media in 2013, becoming known as “belle athena” on most platforms. The name stuck, but the intent of the blog shifted as I began to take myself, and my work, more seriously. After much planning and consideration, I revamped the site in May 2017.
This site is dedicated to the authentic, to the dangerous and sticky parts of humanhood; all the things I’d striven to keep buried. The intention now is to tell the truth to my readers–it is likely to shock some of the loyal followers–and hopefully, with some time and consistency, crack open what it means to be Belle.
Follow, share, and enjoy; start conversations, question and comment, but please, remain kind. Content is all original and must be respected as such. Send all requests, collaboration or otherwise, to ArchaicMalady@gmail.com. Social platforms are also a preferred form of contact.

Thank you,

Fairy Queen Out