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Poem: "Enki's Messengers" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Enki's Messengers"
This poem came out of the June 7, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from haikujaguar which reminded me of the myth "The Descent of Inanna" in which Enki creates two beings. Sometimes rendered as 'two sexless beings,' the kurgarra and galatur may also be presented as a hermaphrodite and a neuter. So here's a look at the two of them together and how they interact in ways that are not made explicit in the myth ... but are somewhat implied by the wider context of Sumerian mythology and history.  You can also find some images from this myth online.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.  So far sponsors include: haikujaguar, kyleri, mdlbear, the_vulture, stryck, general fund.

haikujaguar has offered to illustrate this poem with a sketch if it gets sponsored.  The first $5 has come from the general fund following this month's poll; I rounded up slightly to reveal two verses and give the poem a good headstart. 

FULLY FUNDED
75 lines, Buy It Now = $37.50 
Amount donated = $32.50
Verses posted = 8 of 10

Amount remaining to fund fully = $5
Amount needed to fund next verse = $.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $4.50


Now with a sketch by haikujaguar:
Enki's Messengers
Enki's Messengers



Enki's Messengers


When Inanna's pride had taken her to the Underworld
and Erishkegal had hung her sister's corpse on the wall
and the servant Ninshubur had begged Enki for his aid,
then the true magic began.

For Enki had been out working in his garden,
and he brought forth dirt from under his fingernails,
which he fashioned into two creatures:
the kurgarra, both male and female,
and the galatur, neither male nor female.
Then Enki sprinkled the food of life upon the kurgarra
and the water of life upon the galatur,
and they became alive.

Enki assigned the two creatures to rescue Inanna
and return her to life, which is the part of the story
that everyone knows -- how they went down there
and sympathized with Erishkegal's cries
and asked for the corpse on the wall
and revived Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth.

What is not told in that myth is this:
that Enki knew there were already those
who were both or neither
that Enki had seen how such ones suffered
and thought that kindred spirits might sympathize with another's plight
that Erishkegal, who had swallowed all the souls of the dead,
would likewise recognize these kindred spirits.

What is not said in that myth is this:
that the kurgarra and the galatur
looked upon each other once they were made,
and saw themselves in each other as men and women do,
and conceptualized a love for each other
based not on desire to have but desire to give;
that the kurgarra and the galatur
walked down to the Underworld holding hands
and talking like old friends as if they were as old
as the dirt from which they had been made.

For the kurgarra held the mysteries of the flesh
that lay beyond mere lust, which the galatur admired;
and the galatur held the mysteries of the mind
that outstripped simple attraction, which the kurgarra adored.
They were equal and opposite, and they fitted together
like the two doors of a temple entrance,
body and spirit both bent on one mission.
Surely together they could accomplish anything.

These are the things that Erishkegal heard
when the two creatures echoed her cries.
These are the things that she saw
when she looked upon them.

When the adventure was over and done,
and the meat of the story had been gnawed from the bone,
then the kurgarra and the galatur
wondered what they should do next.
Perhaps, they thought, it would be of some use
to go about the world sympathizing with people like themselves
who were all too often thrown down in the dirt
or flung from the house without their fine things
or hung from a hook on the wall as corpses.

Then Inanna, who had just come through
such an adventure herself and not liked it much at all,
invited the kurgarra and the galatur into her temple.
From that time onward, the Queen of Heaven and Earth
provided a refuge for people who were
both male and female, or neither male nor female,
or some other shape and flavor that no one had named.
Inanna took in the kurgarri and the galaturi of the world
to be her clergy, to keep the holy rites in her temple,
to be revered as servants of the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

The two messengers of Enki were pleased by this.
They worked side by side in the temple,
burning the sweet incense and chanting the sacred words,
swaying their way through the sensual dances,
each one's eyes always following the other,
opposite yet not opposed,
their differences balanced by their equality,
their hearts beating
in perfect unison.

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17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: July 30th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like where this is going. $10 donation sent.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 31st, 2011 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I have posted verses 6-7 accordingly. Thank you for your support!
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: July 31st, 2011 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

You're most welcome.
ideealisme From: ideealisme Date: August 1st, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did not know this legend. It is a compassionate one. Thank you for the poem.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 1st, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm glad that I could introduce you to this.

"The Descent of Inanna" was my introduction to Sumerian mythology, and I first heard it live from an expert storyteller, huddled in a dark classroom on a snowy winter night. Later on, I explored this in more depth and wove it into my spiritual practices. I've written a fair bit about Inanna and Erishkegal. I've always been fascinated by the kurgarra and the galatur, given my interest in gender studies. They show up in some of the nonfiction discussions of Sumerian mythology and related branches of Paganism, particularly among scholars of alternative sexualities.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 1st, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
This poem resonates for me.

Methinks I'll need to look into Sumerian mythology a little more deeply. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>This poem resonates for me. <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>>Methinks I'll need to look into Sumerian mythology a little more deeply.<<

I think you might like it. I recommend:
"Erishkegal: Goddess of Thankless Tasks"
"Erishkegal, Lady of Shadows"
"The Goddess Inanna"
"The Me" (these are powers, and better translations exist)
Sumerian Mythology (scholarly, but one of the first renditions of myths from the source materials)
Inanna, Lady of the Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess
Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer

haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: August 1st, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
And here it is:

Enki's Messengers
Enki's Messengers



If you click on the 'blog this' link and just copy the stuff in the box and paste it into your post-entry window there, it should work fine. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

This is a beautiful sketch! I think you captured the mood perfectly.
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: August 2nd, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

It was fun to do!
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: August 2nd, 2011 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I just made use of your "tweet" button. I may have to get one of those.

Very nicely done -- that's one that's worth contemplating in depth.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>Very nicely done -- that's one that's worth contemplating in depth.<<

I just sat and stared at it for a while. It's one of those images with a lot of implications tucked into a few subtle lines and curves. haikujaguar is good at conveying relationships and ambiance through body language.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: August 3rd, 2011 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

*nods* A language I'm not the least bit fluent in -- I probably didn't pick up a quarter of it.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2011 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I'm better at reading body language in good art or fiction than I am in person, though sometimes good in person too. It varies.
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: August 2nd, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. :)
kyleri From: kyleri Date: August 1st, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Holy cats, I love this. Thank you!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2011 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)

You're welcome!

I'm delighted to hear that. Thanks for the feedback.
17 comments or Leave a comment