My son, my golden eagle.
No, I cannot continue. I hear the hoof-beats and say, I have finished my narrative, I place the manuscript in my bag, to hand it over to my Constantine, who is on his way. I put it away quickly, because the hoof-beats are louder and closer and, this time, yes, it is true.
I go to the doorway and look out at the road. My heart is trembling,
beating wildly, it will burst, I tell myself, because it is my Constantine who is coming, my Constantine is coming. He is dressed in dark clothing, gray or charcoal, black, and he is handsome as an angel on his white horse, no I cannot write anything more about the calamity. I did not have time to talk about the Cretan sailors, who fought on alone until late afternoon, when the Sultan came into The City, or about how our last flag was lowered from the Fort of Alexios near the Horaia Gate. And I wanted also to tell about the terrible night I passed in the sea-tower, among our dead, from where I heard the wailing and the heart-rending cries of the wretched people bound in chains and of others who ran, frantic, toward the ships, begging for passage. From the small embrasure I could see the moon that was disappearing in its impassive orbit, that last moon, whose light was aggrieved by the prophecy that came to pass.
But I cannot recount any more about the disaster, because my Constantine is coming now, the son of Eleni. It is he who will be the first to hear the trumpet of the Angel, he who will receive the sword that I was not worthy to receive, from the hand of the Angel. It is he who will enter the Imperial City as its liberator at the appointed hour, as the new prophecy foretells. He, who will go to wake the Basileus who was transformed into marble, to bring him back alive and covered with blood.
My Constantine is coming, I see the dust of his horse hooves, just as they were in the silver depths of the mirror. He is coming… He bestrides mountains and gorges, or so it seems to me. His horse does not touch the ground, it dances on air and the flowering fields rise up on tiptoe to watch him.
And I tell myself that he could only have come in May, which is the month of the crucifixion and the glorious rebirth, the month of
sacrifice and of hosannas.
I stand at the door of the cell, a small house, now, and I cannot take even one step, my body is paralyzed. But my Eleni runs.
She is able to. She saw him first and runs. Perhaps she, too, heard the hoof-beats or perhaps the wild beating of her heart, and she runs, she can wait no longer. She collapses and falls and gets up again, “I did not hold you to my breast in your fifth year… did not sing to you in your sixth… did not keep watch by your pillow in your seventh… did not see the sadness in your eyes in your tenth… did not take pride in you in your thirteenth…,” and she runs into the silken morning that had saved all its emerald dew and all its fragrance of rebirth for this sublime moment, for this horseman who is coming on his white horse.
I am holding the pearl cross in my hand. It is what united us, I tell
myself. It is what will complete the circle of time, like a precious ring with a pearl on your heart, Imperial City.
He knew that he would find me here, on the hilltop, he knew.
And he gallops, gallops like the wind and like the upright, golden wave; he gallops, scattering wreaths of sparks on
the crystal of the morning in his passing.
The road grows
shorter, he is here, I tell myself, and there, he is dismounting, sees his mother, they are embracing and both are weeping now. Soon, in two moments, one… an archangel with amber eyes like mine, long ago, and he sees me, smiles, surely he recognizes me. The mark on his forehead must be glowing, like mine, that, that is what brings him to me, I tell myself, the sign.
An archangel, yes, and the light of seven suns shines on his face, two moments more, one, half, my hands tremble and my body is collapsing, I cannot hold it up, a little longer my God, a little longer, my Constantine is coming, a little longer, and the tears dull my vision, ah what sweet tears awaited me, what a sweet death… A little longer… my breast aches, and I hold out my arms now, hold them out wide to clutch him to my breast.
My Constantine is coming…
My Constantine is here!
My son, my Constantine…
My son, my golden eagle!