Love, Creusa

Amina Gautier Click to

Amina Gautier is the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for her short story collection At-Risk (University of Georgia Press). Over sixty-five of Gautier’s stories have been published, appearing in Best African American Fiction, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Shenandoah, and Southern Review among other places. Her work has been honored with scholarships and fellowships from Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, Ucross Residency, and Sewanee Writer’s Conference and has been awarded the William Richey Prize, the Jack Dyer Award, the Schlafly Microftiction Award, the Danahy Fiction Prize, and a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Gautier teaches at DePaul University.

[audio:|titles=Love, Creusa by Amina Gautier]

The hardest part is the telling.

Courtesy makes him tell you his story. Good favor is hard to come by; he cannot risk enemies. Seated before your guests, cloaked in homage that is your due, you take it all in. The words, weariness, and despair of one who has seen his world torn asunder, carried it like a father upon his shoulders, dragged it by the hand through the cindered throng like a young balking son, left it behind, like a drudgingly slow wife. The city burns again with each retelling and we are once more betrayed. Strong walls and gates smoked down to embers, too late do we learn to fear strange gifts.

After the retainers have sought their beds, you call him to you. Lying in his arms, thinking him what the gods have promised, you come to know the fickleness of time and nature. The dice have already been cast. Priestess one day, whore the next. Honored widow; scorned wife. Daughter-in-law to the gods; woman turned wisp of smoke. Precarious is the love women fall prey to when they love the man in his power and his piety. The gods move among us without ever begging pardon. When you have done all that they require, then they ask for blood.

Bowers become pyres, and you rue the day you offered hospitality, just as you rue the night he came to your bed. See how Juno’s face blows like an unfettered wind! Now that it has come to this, you ask what it was all for. A woman’s glance— lingering too long—bringing discord and jealousy? An upstart’s prerogative to take that which was never his?

All for the ill-aimed flick of a spear against hollowed wood.


5 Responses to Love, Creusa

  1. Catherine Skitsko says:

    The sense of betrayal permeates this piece. The story of Creusa and Aeneas gives reason for this sense, and yet there seems to be more at play here. At first, it is the man who appears to be telling the story and then there is a shift. Things become a bit more personal. The “you” is employed in both specific and general ways. The narrator is no longer clear, and neither is the person being addressed (though I assume it to be a woman). Gautier seems to be both lamenting the expendable nature of the addressee and at the same time accusing her for her complacency.

  2. emma walters says:

    This is a beautiful story. I don’t believe that we are supposed to read the narrator as a man at all. It seems pretty clear that the speaker is Aeneas’s dead wife Creusa. After all, the story is a letter and it’s signed “love, Creusa” so Creusa is speaking to Dido, the Queen of Carthage; Aeneas’s former love interest is cautioning his current love interest, all of which just makes the story more beautiful.

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