Friday, 5 December 2014

Last of the Sumer Wine


The Goddess Ishtar did one day come out from the wood crafted door of the ziggurat and began to wash the step, cleaning desert sand and mud from the brick with a pale of water. Hidden near to the ziggurat within a mulberry bush were Enkidu, Gilgamesh, and Utnapishtim. As ever, Utnapishtim wore upon his face a faraway look as though lost in thought. Enkidu on the other hand jostled forth, regarding the Goddess with lascivious intent. He licked his lips and rearranged his crude woollen headpiece saying, 'By heck, Gilgamesh, were it not for the dampness of my sandals, I would believe that we were in heaven.'

'Well, she certainly is a vision,' conceded Gilgamesh. 'I'll give you that much.'

Ishtar, sensing the consideration of unseen eyes, paused in her work and looked out from the balcony, her gaze ranging across the great city of Uruk from one doorway to the next. 'Who speaks? Who is here that dare not show themselves?' She raised up the wooden handle of the implement with which she had been making her work. Her lips pursed together as though she had eaten of some bitter fruit.

The mulberry bush sneezed, rattling its leaves and boughs before coming to bloom with conversation.

'You stupid great lump!'

The thin, high voice of Utnapishtim came forth like a timid bird, halting but not quite apologetic. 'Well perhaps if we had not taken such a route through the marshes. It plays havoc with my sinuses.'

'I'll play havoc with your sinuses in a minute!'

A third voice offered amused commentary. 'I think he means to punch you on the nose, Utnapishtim.'

'Yes, well that's his answer to everything.'

'Well, he is a wild man, after all. Pinched from clay of the stuff of the firmament by Aruru, unless I'm very much mistaken.'

'I'll pinch you in a minute!'

Ishtar's brow turned dark and she called out, 'All right you three idiots, I know you're there. You may as well show yourselves before I set the temple guards on you.'

Enkidu emerged, turning back to his two companions as they followed, and yet keeping both twinkling eyes and an unseemly smile trained upon the enraged Goddess. 'My lady beckons! Methinks the time has come when my rustic charms have at last worked their magic, as unto the shepherd's crook upon his wandering flock.'

The lady Ishtar stepped back a little way, fearful of the trio and yet reluctant to reveal that fear. 'Yes, it's the wandering that bothers me - the wandering hands!'

Now Enkidu ran forward to the base of the temple, gazing up with eyes made heavy by devotion, and by the strong desire that he might plant his wild, manly seed within the fundament of the Goddess. 'You know you're gorgeous when you're angry.'

Gilgamesh, now fully emerged from the bush and stood alongside the taller third of their group, showed a face of great wryness. 'Not just when she's angry either, but most other times as well. That's our Enkidu for you. He's nothing if not consistent in his affections.'

Utnapishtim effected to shudder as though stricken with thoughts of death. 'Please - I'd rather not give too much consideration to his consistency. I'm sure the bit about the clay was a euphemism.'

Ishtar was again at the edge of the overhang raining blow after blow down upon the hapless and yet happy wild man. 'You're disgusting, you are! Get away from here!'

Enkidu's great hair-covered paws reached upwards to the heavens, his fingers opening and closing like grapples. 'You know that wrinkled flax robe drives me wild.'

'You're already wild, you fool!'

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