Love Is A Goblet of Faerie Wine, by Amy Chang

 ‘Love Is A Goblet of Faerie Wine’ is a love story set in the spring, threaded with the imagery of seasons turning, fire and water, death and desire, true dreams, and the Faerie Queen.  A modern-day fable about love between women with the air of ancient myth, it emulates the tone from Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains’.

Love Is A Goblet of Faerie Wine

You ask me do I still love her?  Yes.  I have fallen in love with many women.  Am still in love with some of them, and have forgotten how I ever came to love certain others.  I will never stop loving Titania.  Nor will I ever forget the spring we fell in love.  That spring, I took the train to New Orleans to meet another woman, and she gave me a library that fit into the palm of my hand for the ride.  If we had fallen in love already, living together in that blue house covered with blackberry brambles, with two dying trees in the backyard shading the chicken coop, with rickety steps that the chickens had picked all the grubs out of which I always worried about tripping and falling and dropping her baby as I walked down to feed the chickens or fetch the washing, I had no inkling of it.

We had known each other for nearly a year by then, so you can’t call it love at first sight.  I could say that the goddess intervened, but I was thinking of my wife when I made that prayer.  Well, if you pray to fallen angels, you must be prepared for them to answer your prayers sideways, betimes, or not at all.

I had no idea I would fall in love, for I was already in love, and had been for nearly five years and several lifetimes.  Besides, we were both married.

But weddings were the year before.  First there was my backyard wedding on summer solstice, me wearing a baby dragon onesie with spikes and claws that matched the raw silk of my princess bride’s gown, a four tiered wedding cake with fresh raspberries and cream cheese frosting that refused to set the morning of.  Then there was hers, later in the year, her belly swelling like the full moon beneath the autumnal colors of a gossamer dress with two-toned wings of wire and silk, the gentle patter of rain upon the yurt in the redwoods, her horned husband lifting one of his furry legs so she could put the ring on his toe.  I watched her promise a lifetime to that man who looked like Pan incarnate, my own wedding band a Celtic knot in three shades of gold upon my hand.

And then there was the endless expanse of scrubs and sharp rocks cleaved by railroad tracks, the sway of a slow train, the smell of cigarettes and the iPod touch she’d insisted on lending me.  I only looked out from time to time, absorbed in reading.  I did not miss her on the road, and I did not think she might miss me until I got back and she hugged me for longer than usual.

I hugged her back, glad to see her.  Then I went to bed with my wife, and dreamed.

In the dream I had committed some irreparable crime, perhaps more than once, that had locked my soul into a pattern of destruction.  In the dream, we decided that it would be for the best if I was sent into the past to be arrested, that the quickest way to come clean was through rehab provided by the State, harsh and efficient, which was no longer funded in the now, but which used to be amply funded.  I didn’t want to go; she didn’t want me to leave.  Neither of us knew if I’d come back in the end.  We hugged in the living room of my parents’ house, on the white couch.  I held her face in both hands and tilted my head as we kissed for the first time.  It was sweet and very brief, a gentle touch of lips.  Her eyes darted toward the piano room, in the direction of her husband’s footsteps.  We hurried toward the driveway, where my shuttle was waiting.  At the door we hugged again, lingering.  She whispered in my ear, “Be safe.” And I left.  I wrote to her.  She never wrote back.  Years passed in the blink of an eye, the toss of an arm as I turned in fitful sleep.  I made it through my incarceration.  There was a celebration when we were released.  She came to pick me up.  Our mail, never delivered, was returned to us.  But as we walked down the stairs together, I realized I no longer needed her to read what I had written.

Everything changed after that dream.  I could not look at her in the same way as before.  Remember that time you tried to give me a neck rub and I tensed like a cat in a trap preparing to spring? I never told you it was not pain but desire that made me flinch away from your touch.  It felt like that, only more.  I am no longer the virgin I was that morning we stood in my bedroom alone together.

She was trying to date another lady, who stood her up that week.  Two days after that was the first of May, my five year anniversary.  Yes, the woman who became my wife and I began dating on Beltaine, and married on Solstice, Midsummer for kith, Midwinter for kin.  I believe the goddess is still laughing.  But that is another tale.  I wish you could have come to my wedding, either of them.  But I digress.

She came with me to a store which no longer exists to buy a present for my wife.  I forget why or how; we often ran errands together.  She drove, and I sat in the back.  She could not stop talking about the woman who had forgotten their date that Friday; she had looked forward to that date, and was disappointed that it had not happened.  I could have listened to her talk forever.  She spoke with the accent of a distant land, which I had never found endearing until then.  “You could date me,” I said, fully expecting her to reject the idea.  She surprised me by accepting readily.  “I could organise a babysitter for Wednesday night.” She always said ‘organise’ when she meant ‘hire’, and ‘hire’ when she meant ‘rent’.  ‘Wank’ when she meant ‘masturbate’.

That week we visited the island together, smiling at each other over the heads of her son and my friend who was visiting from Japan.  I noticed that her eyes were three colors, which shifted with the light.  We left her son with a babysitter and ate dinner at a Korean restaurant on Telegraph which burned down shortly after.  I brought her a dozen roses in three colors, a bouquet of flames.  Desire smoldered between us.  The room lit up when she smiled at me.  We ran errands downtown on bicycles with her son riding in the chariot, flying an orange pennant.  I taught her to relax her shoulders, touching the winged shoulder blades with fingertips light as dragonflies landing.

“Kiss me,” she said softly.  “I am afraid.” So I did, and I was not afraid, because I had already done so in a dream.

I have kissed many women, but never one with lips as soft as hers, before or since.  This is not a fairy tale, but I swear: parts of me I thought had died flared back to life that sun drenched afternoon.  She held her son between us, and I held his teething ring, which drifted out of reach as she planted a trail of kisses across my throat.  Unfazed, he started chewing on my arm.  We laughed, breathlessly.

The next morning I sat in my oak chair in front of my aquarium and lit a candle for you.  Not for the first time, I wish you had come to this city where all things seem possible, where the impossible happens every day, for you were the first woman I knew who stretched my imagination into the realms which my fourteen year old self deemed utterly unthinkable.  I wore that white shirt I once told you I could never wear by itself.  Remember what you said to me? “I could see you wearing it.” I wear that shirt at least once every year, on the day you chose to leave.

She walked by quietly (she knew about you) and asked, “Would this be a bad time to seduce you?”

“No, please seduce me,” I replied, gazing at flame and water.  The candle will burn for you without my watching it.  Love is a goblet of faerie wine that must be drunk to the dregs when offered, or not at all.

She sat down in my lap, straddling the chair to face me.  We were alone in the house.  Her baby was asleep.  She kissed me, as deliberately as I had kissed her that morning before I lit your candle in the kitchen where she sat on my step-stool waiting for her baby’s milk to warm in the microwave, to prove that what had happened yesterday was real.  I do not remember how we made it to the bed, or how she slid that shirt over my head.  I do remember touching the twin scars beneath her breasts, sharp crescents like the almost new moon and its reflection, which kept her body from making milk to feed her son.  She had a snake tattooed around her left forearm, like the priestesses of the temple from ages past.  We worshipped each other with lips and tongue, dancing the most ancient dance there is.

I wish I could have told you about it in person.  But this is the best I can do, words on a page that fall short of the experience.  On the day that marked eleven years since you chose to leave this world, I fell in love.

Amy Chang

is a queer polyamorous Chinese American woman, born and bred in the San Francisco Bay Area.  When she is not sticking acupuncture needles in people or concocting herbal remedies for a living, she enjoys writing, gardening, painting, food, dance, travel, poetry, pain and intimacy.

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