When a Maenad…

by Allison Floyd

This is part five. Read the suite from the beginning.


When a Maenad Goes Out at Night 

She runs through the forest, gaining momentum, until she lights upon her prey and tears it limb from limb. She will smear the blood of the bison, deer, elk—whichever unfortunate creature wandered into her crosshairs—across her face and lift her head toward the moon. She will howl like a wolf, but more feral, as if she could shatter the forest with her scream. She will raise her arms and extend her hands, palms facing upward, to the heavens. She will chant ancient chants, long lost to mortals, in the hope of summoning the White Bull. She will be forever wanting. The nature of a maenad is to want. She does so unapologetically, embraces her abjection, her sloppy, unseemly female need.

A maenad needs many things: meat; mead; the caress of the cold wind on her arms; the damp, black loam of the woods between her toes; the flesh and fur of her prey beneath her fingernails; and, above all, the One True Bull. This is bull, you might say, and she would merely regard you with pity. Poor you! Not knowing enough of the divine to long for it. To want it hysterically. To need it like she needs the night wrapped around her. Maenads do not sleep because there is too much night to want. No number of nights can fill the need.

As the night begins to wane and the first insinuations of dawn insert themselves in the horizon, a maenad will survey the havoc she has wrought and congratulate herself on another night well-lived. She may retreat to the forest and sleep the day away on its floor. Or she may not. She may just be getting started. For the day has its own wilderness, and a maenad is a wild thing indeed.




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