Gemmy stood silently at the bottom of the staircase, looking up at the giant mural of Minerva. Each detail stood out, almost as if backlit, and Gemmy was transfixed, simply standing in awe and looking. Slowly, Minerva detached herself from the mural, spear and scroll in hand. Her breastplate glimmered and each step that Minerva took down the stairs caused Medusa’s headfull of snakes to writhe and hiss across the breastplate. Minerva’s expression was thoughtful, and not unkind, but the magnificence of the apparition caused Gemmy to quiver and wish that she could cover her eyes.
Minerva stopped at the bottom of the staircase, a few feet away from Gemmy. She held out her scroll and Gemmy squinted, trying to read the shining letters. Minerva lifted her spear, touched Gemmy on the forehead with it, and then Gemmmy sat straight up.
“Peschecat!” Gemmy gasped. “I had that dream again. At least, I think it’s a dream.”
A glance at her alarm clock told Gemmy that it was, at any rate, nearly time to wake up, and Peschecat began to knead Gemmy’s shoulder, clearly not intending to allow Gemmy to go back to sleep without first attending to the now-empty bowl on the kitchen floor. Still, Gemmy sat back against her pillows for a moment, idly stroking Peschecat’s apricot fur and remembering as much as she could of the dream. When she did move, it was to pick up a small notebook on her bedtable and to jot down the dream. Her final note: “I still can’t seem to read Her scroll, no matter how many times I have this dream. What DOES it say? Why CAN’T I read it?”
An hour later, showered and with a big mug in her hand, Gemmy stepped outside for a moment to stand in her tiny back yard. She and Paris had done a lot back here. There were pots with herbs, a few tomato plants, vines covering the ugly fence, marigolds along the edge, and a ceramic birdfeeder that seemed to attract mostly sparrows and squirrels. Gemmy poured a tiny offering of tea to the Rubenesque statue of Gaia perched on a small bench by the back door. She stood still and simply listened and looked, taking in the sound of the birds and nearby traffic, the not-far-off rumble of the metro train, and the way the sun and clouds were playing with each other this morning.
A few minutes later, Gemmy entered the almost-empty room on the top floor of her townhouse. She opened the window and turned on the electric fan; heat rose quickly here in humid northern Virginia. Gemmy spent about half an hour moving mindfully through a Sun Salutation and then sat gratefully down at her altar. She took some deep breaths and grounded, calling in the Elements, and, then, focused on the small postcard in the center of her altar.
Tight as her budget was, Gemmy had, after her writing workshop, ventured downstairs to the Library of Congress gift store to buy a book about the Library’s many works of art and two postcards that showed the lovely mural of Minerva. One, she’d addressed to Carla with a note that said, “This city is crammed full of Goddesses! You’ve got to find a time to come down and visit!” and, the other, she’d put on her altar. This morning, as Gemmy focused on the postcard, a thought came to her: “I’ve been trying to read the scroll, but maybe it’s the breastplate I’m meant to see.”
Picture found here.