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The Lord's Clockwork: Christian Iconographers

(By Sage Sweetwater ) Pima, Sateen, Mab, and Ratti Ben have brought a mannequin to the abbey to be dressed like an angel.
"For sanity's sake, you must wear a brown cloak in the name of the forest.  Without one, you will cease to exist and you will be reduced to a spiritually starved man," the head monk tells him.

"When I try to pick out anything for myself, I find it attached to my late wife and son," Jonas says.

"We call this the Lord's clockwork.  He says it is time to let go of the grief and cling to the cloak," the monk says, showing him to the cloak closet. "Pick one out, Brother Jonas."

Jonas takes a brown cloak from a wooden coat hangar and puts it on.  A settling silence comes over him, and he feels the strong presence of his angel Maria from inside the monastery.

"Walk with me to the scriptorium, Brother Jonas.  It is a good hour for doing the Lord's clockwork in scripture."

Pima, Sateen, Mab, and Ratti Ben have brought a mannequin to the abbey to be dressed like an angel.  "We are the curious about this merry drink you call mead," Pima says.

"Let me do all the work.  Sit and drink mead.  Be merry," the monk says, uncorking a crock.

"Is it a sin to be talking to you?" Ratti Ben asks.

"Women visitors are allowed here.  It is not a sin to be talking friendly in this way," the monk replies.  "The heart is a holy place."

"Do you feel conflicted in our presence?" Mab asks.

"I must pray very hard tonight," the monk answers.

Another monk brings warm bread for the ladies.  "Please take," he says, keeping with the rhythm of religion.  "Made with prayerful hands."  He bows with his hands forward in front of him clasped in prayer.

Pima, Sateen, Mab, and Ratti Ben sit on the floor in the lotus position breaking bread and sipping mead, and the monk dresses the mannequin in a white altar cloth, cutting a slit for her head to go through, transforming her into an angel.  This is the same monk who saw the four of them the day on the river.  He is very artistically chaste about dressing the mannequin, and he knows a thing or two about temptation.  Angels were desexed philosophically in the writings of ancient theologians who said that unlike the souls of the virtuous reborn, angels were unable to even kiss.

Christian iconographers borrowed an existing inspirational figure as the model for their angel, the pagan goddess, Nike, or Victory.  As a result, angels became feminized, sexually ambiguous figures.

When he's finished dressing her, he puts a bend in her pliant right arm and positions her movable hand so her palm will hold a cherub of pencils with perfect erasers ... heaven's erasers to erase lust ... standing her in the hallway next to the entrance of the scriptorium.

"Angels need wings," Ratti Ben says, taking a pair of sprite wings that Starlynn, Prisma, and Yumiko made wrapped in cloth.

"Beautiful heaven!  Where did you find these wings?" he asks.

"Our sisters, the sprite-wing builders made them," Sateen says.

As the monk is tying on the wings over the mannequin's shoulders, Pima takes Grayson's white-dyed wig wrapped in another cloth.  "Our sister of the loons has given her hair."

"What do you ladies do?" the monk asks.

"Can we say it in your house?" Ratti Ben whispers.  Pima, Sateen, and Mab giggle as they are merry on mead.

"Tell it to the angel," the monk answers.

Pima stands up and faces the angel.  "We're the designer-slip crafters."

"You make underclothing for women?" he asks.  He takes a fresh piece of chalk from his woolen cloak pouch, kneels, and draws a perfect white chalk circle on the black tile floor around the mannequin angel.  "Confession is good for the soul."

Ratti Ben stands up inside the chalk circle.  "We are lesbians."  In her country, she may have been stoned to death with rocks for saying it where it is a crime against nature punishable by ten years to life in prison.  She has wanted to say it for so long.

"The Lord must have worked overtime to make you four women so beautiful and gay.  May it last forever," the monk says from inside the chalk circle ...


... Rolling outside of the red-ocher-chalked circle zone is a source of evil, the hurt of man.  Pontiac calls it Punished Woman.  He says he's seen it at a medicine wheel.  Just before Fringe Water Many Bosom pulled a pot of stew off the fire, she rolled a handful of stones on the ground.  They rolled out of the chalked circle zone, the clue that told her a white man was close by.

"Don't take them," warns his companion as they neared the perimeter of the camp.  "They belong to a Frenchman and we may get into trouble."

"You are a white man's fool and a coward.  These two women belong to each other.  They chew each other like sweet root."

"How do you know this?  Have you seen their clothes draped on the bushes along your footpath?"

"They keep it in the lodge, I suspect."

"You are the fool and coward.  You do not know!  Wasn't it just you who was ditched not an hour ago by the squaw you paid her brother to sleep with?  And she took your whiskey!"

A white man's world, this is an opportunity to educate evil.  Chance favors the prepared mind.  Now is the time for Fringe Water Many Bosom and Paris to show their blanket with a backbone.

Excerpted from THE BUCKSKIN SKIRT OAR TRAVELER by Sage Sweetwater, firebrand lesbian novelist, copyright 2005, 2006
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