Author: Robert Beech
The sun rises slowly over the horizon, its pale rays piercing the low-lying clouds to illuminate the circle of standing stones as they have done for millennia. The arc of time turns slowly, biting its own tail like the worm Ouroboros, spinning endlessly to nowhere. The gods were not kind who cursed us with immortality.
I lean against you, stone face against stone shoulder, as we have leaned for millennia, as we shall lean for millennia to come, until sun and rain and the poisonous breath of the tourists who come to gape at us shall dissolve us into nothing, into pebbles and then dust to be blown away on the wind, carried by clouds and then falling down with the rains over the countryside or washed out to sea to drown in the great mother ocean. That would not be such a bad fate, perhaps, to be reunited with Cliodhna and her folk beneath the waves, but it shall be a long time coming, this fate. Even stone is not eternal, but it seems so on these short summer nights.
Midsummer’s Night seems the longest night of the year, although it has the fewest hours. I could almost be alive, the pang of desire is so acute. One million, eight hundred and twenty five thousand, three hundred and sixty four sleepless nights I have lain pressed against you. But who counts? Stone face against stone shoulder, immortal, timeless, taut with desire, hurt and anger. The gods were not kind who cursed us with immortality.
Once men prayed at the base of our stones and offered sacrifice. The smell of burning flesh wafted up over the countryside as they sought our blessing. Now they come in camper vans and tour buses and the smell of burning tobacco and cannabis wafts over our altar. The result is much the same. The gods do as they will, impervious to the imploring, the blaspheming and the conjuring of mortals, and we lay, as we have always lain, stone face against stone shoulder, immortal, timeless, uselessly straining to reach one another as though we had learned nothing from the past five millennia.
Solstice was ever a time of sacrifice, of blood and wine, and new oaths sworn. I swore I would lie with you that night and forever. I cut my hand and the blood spilled out onto the rocks of the altar. The gods heard my prayer.
You swore I would never have you. Your cut went deeper, slicing through veins and arteries, the blood fountaining into the air and then pooling onto the greedy face of the stones that drank it in. The gods heard your prayer, too.
The gods have granted both our wishes and now I lie with you each night, unable to possess you, stone face pressed against stone shoulder, silently screaming in unrequited agony and impotent rage, watching the millennia pass. The gods were not kind who cursed us with immortality.
I would warn them, those who gather by our stones this Solstice night, swearing new oaths as their cannabis scented offerings rise to the sky. Be careful what you wish for. Be very careful. But who would listen to a rock?