Sekhmet Excerpt

Sekhmet © Janice Duke. Full page illustration for Hawk Divine by Janice Duke.

The lioness rose and for a moment seemed to eclipse the world; so golden, so adoring, her body lustrous and powerful. She gazed at me longingly with her huge heat-filled eyes, and then bid me, without words, to climb upon her back. She seemed like a camel as I rode her through hot sand dunes, padding silently to a baroque building carved into the side of a tall cliff; it’s walls of baked terracotta lined with pillars and looming statues of fierce beasts.

Within was a great banquette hall, walls painted with scenes and writings alien to me. The wooden table in the middle was long, covered in ornate carvings inlaid with gold. Upon it sprawled a huge feast that made my mouth water to see. Fruit and fish and meat prepared in many delicious ways, all gathered around a centre piece that took my breath away. The one who broke my heart lay naked on a tray, figs and grapes in upturned hands, honey glaze upon their skin.

I slid from the back of the lioness then, walking forward, filled with disbelief and a strange creeping hunger. I turned back and gazed into those huge warm eyes and as I watched she glittered, cracked and fell apart. It was as though she were made of many tiny mirrors and now they buzzed and thronged, like fish or bees, becoming spirals and mandala, flattening and swarming before me. I stared at my reflection and watched it transform.

My eyes became huge and gold, my body contorting, clothes ripping open. From my hands and feet I sprouted paws and claws. This strange metamorphosis was surprisingly pleasant, as though I had always been wearing the wrong skin. I became the lioness, I became the mirror swarming.

Image and excerpt from my forthcoming book Hawk Divine.

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