Feb. 7th, 2007

late_born_myth: (Default)
Psyche is fascinated by mirrors. She always has been.

It's not something those who've been privileged to hear one of her rants on the subject of her own appearance might expect; these have grown increasingly less frequent over the centuries, as after all it's rather dubious form to resent something which ultimately brought you happy immortality and undying love. Others with a similar problem have had it harder; that poor Irish girl Deirdre even has it in her story's title.

There's still a certain edge to her voice every time she says the word "beauty," and she still has trouble sometimes keeping herself entirely gracious about every dumbstruck look. It's a humbling thing, knowing that the most important fact about you is something you had no choice in being. Her soft, shining feet, more indestructible than diamond, can remember the long bruising procession up the mountain to the sacrificial rock.

But mirrors don't remind her of any of that, unless she happens to be thinking about it when she catches her own eyes. She'd liked the warm glow of a bronze mirror, its surface polished to a sheen that reflected the world in an eternal late afternoon; she'd liked better to sit by the fountain at her father's palace and watch the water tremble and cast up shadows. Psyche didn't bother to look at her own reflection when she was in company, but when she was alone she liked the quiet of it, the reversed light of her own face held in such a thin space. The silvered-glass kinds are lovely, too. She thought when she saw the first that it was like holding a small, twisted-handled moon.

Perhaps it's partly that she knows it's not quite what she looks like to everyone else. The girl in the bronze handmirror or the water's surface hadn't been her; it was someone separated from her by that thin, impenetrable space. What if you could meet that other self, could exchange words, touch, thought where there was only sight and playful mimicry?

Not that it ever felt entirely safe. One of her most stomach-churning memories was of flower petals falling across the water's surface, and seeing a peasant girl's vaguely familiar face behind hers; she'd turned, and the girl had gone to her knees. (Psyche was thirteen years old, and it was the first time she'd been addressed as a goddess.) When she'd lit the lamp with shaking hands in the darkness, one fearful thought which passed through her amid visions of winged serpents and great savage birds was of seeing herself, reflected and asleep there on the couch, and knowing not at all what might be inside that shell.

It's with a similar spirit she reads every poem addressed to her, every book that tells her story another way. They all are her, she knows: that's part of what being a goddess means, and especially the goddess she is; each new repetition is a reflection of the storyteller's self, their own soul. And that is what she is, too. So Psyche hovers over the pages, and feels perhaps a little like Narcissus, now and then. But only if she happens to be thinking of it. Mostly it's curiosity, whimsy, and a little wonder. She hadn't known what her journey would mean to anyone else. She'd never expected to be a symbol.

She likes the ones that show her most in love.

February 2010


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