The Attic

Sweet was the wine they plied me with, heavy and sweet, unwatered wine, rich as gold, strong as the black earth out of which the curling vines grew. Sweeter still were the songs that resounded through the streets during those four days of revelry, riotous hymns and odes to our bacchanals, snake chants and drum lines and a thousand voices crying the name. But sweetest of all were the girls that ran through the crowds and danced in the streets, limbs flashing in the sunlight, sweat bright on their faces, teeth capped with gold, wrists heavy with bracelets. Into perfumed bowers they led me, and laid me down upon a flowering mattress, and our dozen couplings poured out onto budding hawthorn, oak, sacred yew. And they were all named Cybele.

Four days we ran riot in the streets, four days given over to every debauch our unproctored youth could conceive, four days of impossible license and freedom, an orgy of wine and blood and rut, until even the heat died down within us and we emerged, as it were from a cave, blinking to discover the sunlight. On every street corner now stood the priests, faces beardless and hollow, shoulders and hips broad, and in their hands the flinty sickles and the bitter herbs.