A Conversation between Death and Lust

It is dark outside, with a juicy red sun just set in the distance.  Death flies down and lands on the edge of a cliff.  Lust climbs out of the ground to greet her.  They sit apart, legs dangling off the side of the cliff.

DEATH: What do you do to men?

LUST: The same as you, I consume them.

DEATH: Do they seek you more than me?

LUST: No.  They seek you through me.  They seek escape, surrender –

DEATH: A loss of self.  Where do they go?

LUST: Into me, into woman, into God.

DEATH: Into God, though I have never seen a God.  Men come to me thinking they’ll find him, but they find only what they find with you – everything without the self, nothing within.

LUST: They find God with me.  God is me, is you, is the ones we tempt and the ones we take.  God is the everything beyond and the nothing within.

DEATH: Then the devil is the suggestion that all you say is true, the suggestion that the God we promise is dissipative, no more with us than with them.  But that isn’t so.  If the devil speaks true that God is everything – thus hardly anything – than at least God is more concentrated in you and I.  If men go to God for peace or acceptance or epiphany, they might as well come to us.

LUST: They go to God for punishment and redemption.  So they come to us for an excuse to give themselves what they seek from God.

DEATH:  We grant them the selfishness in which they revel by affecting disdain.  We have great power over them.

Lust stands as the distant red fades to gray.  She hugs her shoulders. 

LUST: I sometimes find it a superficial power, which would disappear in a moment if men opened their eyes.

DEATH: (Twisting around to watch Lust) Which I ensure they cannot do.

LUST: But they are the ones that grant us our power.  If we were to remove our mysterious facades they would not fear us.  Their desire would persist, but it would be calm and accepting, and they would look upon us as equals.  The taboo upon us lends us power.

DEATH: But we will always remain mysterious.  They cannot know us any better than they can know God.  What they desire is not merely us, but what they want to find through us, and whether that’s God or themselves or Truth –

LUST: Or escape from the desire to seek those things –

DEATH:  Yes, but either way, it is what their minds invent beyond us that gives vitality to our allure.

Death stands up and makes a move as if to wrap her arm around Lust, but Lust begins to pace.

LUST: I feel used.  Is it not me but epiphany, or escape from desire for epiphany, that they want?

DEATH: Of course they still desire you, dear, but there is no doubt that their own minds add to your mysteriousness.  Take for example, St. Anthony.  He created you as his temptation.  And perhaps his eyes wandered across your full breasts and down your curves

LUST: Perhaps!

DEATH: Of course.  But he did not move toward you.  But think then what he created from you, and beyond you, beyond both of us.  Monsters and the devil!  It is through you and I that men meet their greatest fears and temptations.

LUST: You suggest that we ourselves are not the temptation, but the gateway to them.

DEATH: And what gateways!

LUST: St. Anthony did not move toward you either.  You speak as if we are the same.  But men can live through me, and only up to you.

DEATH: Time is the only thing that separates us.  The wild freedom and fear and obsession they find in you is no different from the same feelings they anticipate through me.

LUST: But you disappoint, and I do not. (A pause.) I long for you, for your graceful, terrible escape.

DEATH: I would take you, embrace your luscious curves, feel your hot breath.

(The two draw nearer, eyes locked.)

LUST: If we could unite, I envelop you, and you whirl us beyond tedious life.  Come to me!

DEATH: You tempt me –

LUST: You tempt me!

(Death and Lust embrace tightly, and intimately entwined, fall off the edge of the cliff.)

– YG

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Filed under Week 7 reviews: Flaubert, Temptation of Saint Anthony

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