they say athena is the greek goddess of love. i used to say this, before i learned the godsâ€™ names and their accompanying powers, abilities hitched to human elements. they say athena is the goddess of love because, in my mind, athena–phonetically speaking–sounds lovely, or is flicked off the back of teeth like thick chocolate, or because athena is a well-known god, alongside zeus and hades, so it stands to reason, given athenaâ€™s beauty–and womanhood–she should be the goddess of love.
iâ€™m tempted to say this is ignorance on the part of people, but i understand it as a matter of space. the brain can only hold so much information before data is deleted, or pushed into mercurial pools where the forgotten drowns. adults have little reason to remember lessons from grade school, and they have all the reasons they need to confuse athena with aphrodite, although–clearly–the latter is a given. aphrodite, aphrodisiac, aphro, a common hairstyle for aphro-americans, one athena wears now, one that turns me on like ginseng and pomegranate.
i met her before i met empress. i met her before i renamed myself mensah. i was still Dennis and i wrote like him, too–badly–but i shared my work online, as did athena. we werenâ€™t friends, but admirers of each otherâ€™s art, i suppose. i thought her far more precocious in the matters of poetry than i; i said as much; i said, â€œi want to write poetry like you when i grow up.â€ i donâ€™t know her response, since memory is a bitch and besides, monitors and code separated us. whatever she muttered over yonder in ohio, or whatever she wrote in the box label REPLY TO, i can assure you…LOL was not attached at the end. and if it was, it was done so genuinely, as opposed to LOL shut the fuck up.
athena rarely cusses. she is, in that sense, the better wordsmith.
in the video game series, â€œGod of War,â€ i–as Kratos, maddened and ashen and wielding swords affixed to chains welded to forearms–was forced to kill athena. she was his guide, his rabbi of sorts as he marched through levels of skeletons and cyclopses on his way to a final showdown with Zeus, his father. athena wanted zeus dead, though i canâ€™t remember why. Kratos–i–got my wish, but not before he (me) accidentally killed athena.
athena came home from running errands and asked for a status update; she liked to watch me play video games and i liked playing them for her; in this way, i performed a movie for her; i entertained her; i made her smile. she asked, â€œwhat happened?â€ and i replied, â€œi killed athenaâ€ and she asked, â€œyou killed me. why?â€Â and i, â€œwell, the game told me to. it was a part of the plot.â€ she nodded and kissed my forehead. â€œthatâ€™s foul,â€ she said.
later in the game…part iii if i recall…Kratos–i–fucked aphrodite on his (my) way to killing her husband. this factoid is somewhat related.
in georgia, i slammed my head onto a tiled wall. i didnâ€™t bleed, but i did weep–before the blow, mind you–because a nameless force, one i knew for years, tripled in weight and rested its fat ass on my chest. the doctors called it major depression; i no longer doubt them. however, in the shower, my head still on the tiled wall, i said, â€œi need athena.â€
this was seven years after we met online, six years after i last saw her face-to-face when i caressed the tattoo on her thigh while my girlfriend was nearby, a year after we reconnected on AOL messenger, two months after we both admitted to â€œfeelings,â€ five months before i would see her again–differently–a year before my divorce.
love happens, so iâ€™ve heard.
we had phone dates because i lived in georgia and she lived in ohio and we both lived with others (i with the wedding ring, she with the years–the years, the reasons to stay, the memories). i parked at a park, she parked at a botanical garden, and we dated over the phone.
she sent me music. fiona apple and sarah vaughn, no doubt and zero 7; i sent her dilla and the beatles and slum village and michael jackson (off the wall version). i sent her music because i wanted to, but also to return the favor twice over, for her music meant everything to me. she didnâ€™t have to take the time to do a silly thing like make a mix CD and say in an email, â€œread between the lines,â€ but she did–and i read–
they say athena is the goddess of love and if i were still Dennis, iâ€™d say something stupid. like:
they say athena is the goddess of love–and i agree.
they say athena is the goddess of love. maybe. but sheâ€™s my goddess.
athena is, in fact, the goddess of wisdom. athena is also a woman. just a woman. just–
athena. the name i utter. over and over. whispering it. turning it into an incantation to invoke not wisdom or love…but maybe…solace. stillness.
love, indeed. so much love.
â€œtell me something good,â€ she whispers into my right ear and i say,
…and she smiles, sated.