The crossroads – in the afterlife

Stirring, and whispers
within a burning
Desire summons,
therein, so brewing
for death

The lost, lie as prey
while the lonely stray
though walking in
the light; the crimson deep
her sight
and death to befall them
so it is foretold

Enticing and delighting, yet
defies
The mark withers
from her reach
Desire anew
for the ones who stole;
life deprived
for those who shall steal;
their lives, their fate now sealed
to decide
to crush and smother
suffocate
the evil

The fallen sing
avenged

For her murder:
Promised to another
her death but a dream
from the misery in her
enslavement to come
but before the ring is even placed
to adorn her stolen hand
the blood is spilled as a torrent, and
doomed she is, for her finger is bare, and
doomed to become the creature, the Strigoaicǎ

For their murders:
To come
she will be their voice,
their fists, their swords
when they have none.

© 2016

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Beneath the crossroads

And when from the grave,
the birth of everlasting,
the sorrow is no longer
Gentle mists of alabaster
embrace and caress
life anew
For to come undone,
no longer
Transcending the forgotten,
the spires of dread that nest within,
now, light all but withers
Though sugar-wisps strain, striate
and a tear
though happily
Dead among
beneath the crossroads

© 2016

The crossroads – becoming

Wandering, and the reaper sings
vengeance
A dream so desired
A sacrifice
in which to bury the poison
and violent deeds
Becoming

Alone, suffering
Withering and waiting for
the soul to depart
the cold earth to swallow
Deprived so long
of being
Love, no longer
Loved, no longer
Becoming

The calling
where the blood has spilled
and shall spill no more
Into shallow depths
beneath crumbling soil
and sunken stars
The lore speaks
and enslaves one more
to rise into
Becoming

Wronged, the calling tells
Belonging to no one
Bare, a ring forgotten,
the beast is
Becoming

© 2016

Atop the crossroads

Atop the crossroads
and among the humming stars,
where the ticking clock
casts fate
Peace from
grotesque memories,
where the shadows are drawn near,
and wavering light of hope
refuses to dawn
Sin ever-inviting
in the empty sorrow
The words lingering and stained
for the unmolested steel
lured to the flesh

© 2016

Tale of the Strigoaicǎ – original

Taken from my university assessment portfolio.

Want to read more about the Strigoaicǎ?
Read the short story, The Strigoaicǎ – Published in the 2014 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology
Read the poem, Strigoaicǎ


Winter, 1847

The beast, Strigoaicǎ, had birthed from the sombrous earth, her sleep interrupted, disturbed by my presence. Her body moved, as the sun melted away, toward the sienna-painted sky. From the hoar frost-coated creepers, and pearlescent gloom of the wintergreens, she emerged gracefully. Skin of alabaster and russet hair, the Strigoaicǎ was the very vision of beauty; exquisite and rare. She approached me, a fallow-struck haunting tinge. How did I get here? Branches of trees clawed into the velvet sky and I was lost among the protruding crosses of the shallow earth; the cemetery appeared from nowhere. It was intentionally placed, so far from life, near the crossroads. I was alone. No one would hear me die at her hand. Torn silks and satins of ivory adorned her beautiful form. The Strigoaicǎ, unnamed for she lost her name many years ago — a value no longer one to her, for what is a name without existence? — bathed in the icy breeze as it lashed from the woodland surrounds. Her stunning features far surpassed any I had ever seen before in a woman. There was something keeping me from running, something in her eyes which pleaded with me to stay. Stay. Her loneliness, and sad, watering eyes hit me deep within. She lured me. The melancholic siren sang her song; a call by the creature of the night, to lead me to her domain.

Her whispers were cold breaths, dissipating into the woods. If only her sorrow would too.
‘I sleep with the suicides. They are lonely creatures.’ The Strigoaicǎ announced, in a soft voice.
‘Why am I here?’ I asked hesitantly.
‘To show you what I am, what I have done. I no longer wish nor need to be in this world. I have lingered here for years in aching misery. I only desire for someone to know my story, so I can leave a part of me behind. Perhaps he is waiting for me.’

My mouth agape, I could not respond but rather watch her in deafening silence. Behind her, spotted flycatchers danced, hopping in the bluebells. I witnessed the Strigoaicǎ praying silently to herself, and in that instant our minds locked and became one. She took me to her past. I saw her misery through my eyes, and I felt her grief through my heart.

 

Autumn, 1397

Denied love from this world, my darling took another creature. From then I became condemned to a fate far worse than death.

We were to be wed on the eve of my sixteenth birthday, at the Densuș Church. Strokes of fallow, umber, and auburn within the sky wove in between the azure dusk, it was a sublime background on that wondrous night. I walked into the sanctuary of our Lord, down the aisle of despairing onlookers. My eyes searched for the cause of such dread. My family wept when he didn’t show, yet I was only numb and frozen from shock. I sat in silks and satins atop the cold surface of the stone steps. Anger surfaced momentarily, but was followed quickly by self-pity, then self-loathing. He had left me waiting, hours. When the night’s sky loomed above the slowly scattering guests of the wedding, a messenger came. He delivered me news of my fiancé. The agony in my heart was far too much to bear, and yet I knew that there would be more for me to suffer. I took the letter from the messenger, my hands smoothed over the rough paper, as though it were precious to me.

I cannot take your hand, for my heart belongs to another. I am sorry that I cannot be the man that I promised I would be.

It would have been a betrayal of his heart, he said in the letter, if he were to be mine. I collapsed to the cold, cold, earth hoping death would ensnare me with her harsh, unyielding grasp. Weakness and emptiness stole my body. I desired never to leave where I had laid, beneath the willows, beneath the carrion crows, above the lonely souls, where I wished to weep forever. Drops from the heavens were cast down onto me, and I savoured the moment. The Lord must take me. I felt my life slipping away from me, yet it was only my heart, begging for its aches of heartbreak to burn to cinders. And around me, the raucous cries of the carrion crows deafened the woods. They screamed, relentlessly, wishing for me to leave. Leave.

Damning all the angels who have cursed and mocked me, I desired the sorrow which had latched onto me so fervently. The angels’ love was bitter now. Forcing myself up, I rejected the cross and found solace in the lonely walk upon the pewter cobblestones, towards the town’s lake. The muted greys of faces which passed me were a blur. An emptiness surged within my body and soul. Numbness took a hold of me as I found my way to the bridge, through the haze. My hands reached its icy, stone edge. Tears descended, warming my cheeks, and yet my heart could not be met by this same warmth. I knew what would become of me, if I took my life. Her. I would become her. I envisioned what I would have to do in order to survive. I envisioned the life I would take.

Peering over the ledge, my eyes struggled against the bracing winds. The lake had not frozen over yet, but it would by morning, and that is when they would find my body. Before I could think anymore, I raised myself up, clambered over the rail and plummeted into the depths below. His lover will be my first victim. The waters embraced me as they swirled around me, freezing my flesh and blood.

Will he forget me? He loved me once, I know it.

In the winter of that year, I was confined in the earth. Without my love; a counterpart to share my soul, I was destined to become her; the creature that walks no longer in daylight, but with the night’s shadows. I became the Strigoaicǎ.

© 2012

Rationale: Currently I am studying the Gothic and Romantic periods, and Romanian mythology for my own personal project. For this particular assessment I wanted to explore a story of a strigoaicǎ, a female vampire. In Tale of the Strigoaicǎ, I focus on the tale that can be overlooked, the creation of the vampire.

The Strigoaicǎ (strih-gwah-ih-kah) has her roots in Romanian mythology. Her origins defy the modern vampire, in culture and creation, for the strigoaicǎ is full of so much depth and character. In my story, Tale of the Strigoaicǎ, the creature was created in dying before marriage, by suicide. Without a husband, she is doomed to become a vampire. Dying unwed and suicide are two ways in which a woman can become the strigoaicǎ. The male equivalent is the strigoi. The folklore is rich with ‘procedures’ to be carefully followed when burying the dead:

“In Roumania, bodies are disinterred at an interval of three years after death in the case of a child, of four or five years in the case of young folk, and of seven years in the case of elderly people. If decomposition is not then complete, it is supposed that the corpse is a vampire.” (Murgoci 320)

It has been very difficult finding information of the Strigoi or Strigoaicǎ, especially in English. What little I could find of the myth and funeral traditions was from a Romanian book titled, Datinile poporului român la înmormântări (Traditions of the Romanian people at funerals). Rough translations indicate that the aforementioned deaths (before marriage and by suicide) are only two examples of how a person can become a strigoi or strigoaicǎ.

I wanted to encompass what I feel are the key conventions of the Gothic (and vampire) genre: unrequited love and revenge. The Strigoaicǎ is left at the altar. Her fiancé falls in love with another woman. Driven by revenge, the heroine turns herself into a vampire. I do not reveal the details of her revenge, it is only implied that she has successfully done so. Although she is so full of fury that she decides to side with evil, when she speaks to the second character (in her later years), a softness is there. Perhaps the Strigoaicǎ did not find the satisfaction she was looking for in her revenge. She is burdened still by her love for her ex-fiancé that she desires death; an end to her misery as an immortal creature.

The date in which the Strigoaicǎ turned is significant, for the Gothic has its roots in medieval literature and culture. The lovely Richard Davenport-Hines makes the distinction between ‘Goths’, Scandinavian and eastern European tribes of the Middle Ages, and ‘Gothic’, referring to the architectural movement and also literature – much to my delight. “[The Gothic] has provided fantasies of dystopia – invoking terror, mystery, despair, malignity, human puniness and isolation – which since the seventeenth century have gratified, distressed or chilled consumers…” (Davenport-Hines 1) According the Davenport-Hines, the fear associated with the Gothic, originates from “the Goths’ ferocity” (1). I digress, however the point is that although the opening of the story, Tale of the Strigoaicǎ is set in the nineteenth century, predominantly it is set in the medieval period, as the Strigoaicǎ’s past is revealed. The aim ultimately was to show a connection between the two periods of time.

The heroine, facing the reality of unrequited love, deliberately becomes a vampire in order to seek revenge on her fiancé’s lover. She desires to haunt — “a fundamental part of Gothic Fiction.” (Giuffre 1)

The journal entry (or letters) is a popular convention in Gothic literature, as demonstrated by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I echo that idea, even if only in a small way with the use of the dates in the beginning of each segment.

Setting is very important in Gothic fiction: a desolate wasteland far removed from the real world, populated by extreme characters, or referred to as ‘excess’ by Susanne Becker. Jerrold E. Hogle notes:

“…a Gothic tale usually takes place (at least some of the time) in an antiquated or seemingly antiquated space – be it a castle, a foreign palace, an abbey, a vast prison, a subterranean crypt, a graveyard, a primeval frontier or island, a large old house, an aging city or urban underworld, a decaying storehouse, factory, laboratory, public building, or some new recreation of an older venue, such as an office with old filing cabinets, an overworked spaceship, or a computer memory. Within this space, or a combination of such spaces, are hidden some secrets from the past (sometimes the recent past) that haunt the characters, psychologically, physically, or otherwise at the main time of the story.” (Hogle 2)

In Tale of the Strigoaicǎ, I detail the setting in relation to Hogle’s definition, and apply the use of a cemetery. Of course, I did wish to dabble in Becker’s idea of excess as well. However, for my particular story, I wanted to create excess in the form of setting; I use emotive writing to detail the scene. The setting is unknown in the first segment, however it does move to Romania when the Strigoaicǎ recounts her tale.


Becker, Susanne. Gothic Forms of Feminine Fictions. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999. Print.
Burada, Teodor T and Oprişan, I. Datinile poporului român la înmormântări. Bucharest: Saeculum, 2006. Print.
Davenport-Hines, Richard. Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin. London: Fourth Estate, 1998. Print.
Guiffre, Dr. Liz, Week 7: Gothic Fiction and Vampirism. Genre Writing. Curtin University. Perth, date unknown. Lecture notes.
Hogle, Jerrold E. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
Murgoci, Agnes. “The Vampire in Roumania.” Folklore. 37. 4 (December 1926): 320-349.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam Classic, 2003. Print.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. London: Harper Press, 2011. Print.

Strigoaicǎ

Taken from my university assessment portfolio.

Want to read more about the Strigoaicǎ?
Read the short story, The Strigoaicǎ – Published in the 2014 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.
Read the short story, Tale of the Strigoaicǎ 


Part I
Her smile radiated the wood
and touched me deep within
but I sensed a coldness in her.

She had been scorned
and had become bitter
for it.

Part II

I bled, for his love was within my veins,
haunting me.
The weariness, the sickness
overcame and swallowed me
into darkness.

My eyes, fluttering desperately as my body
tried to resist the call
of unconsciousness.
My fingers curling,
slowly,
the effort unwitnessed.
Clenching into fists,
releasing,
and scoring into my face.
They dragged into my skin,
trying to stop the fainting spell.

© 2012

Notes on the poemThe strigoaicǎ (strih-gwah-ih-kah) has her roots in Romanian mythology. Her origins defy the modern vampire, in culture and creation.

Strigoaicǎ is a reflection of a Romanian inspiration in my novel, A Travesty, and it’s one that I like to further explore in poetry and short stories. Writing about my strigoaicǎ helps me understand her character better. There is an emotional and psychological connection between her and the heroine, so I have included two parts in the poem. Part one is from the perspective of the heroine; how she sees the strigoaicǎ, and part two is from the perspective of the strigoaicǎ; one that presents a painful memory of hers.

The Strigoaicǎ

Published in the 2014 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.blue-fringe-arts3-001

The Strigoaică

Want to read more about the Strigoaicǎ?
Read the poem, Strigoaicǎ
Read the short story, Tale of the Strigoaicǎ 

‘The truest pain from the scorn of man was never greater known than by a girl that I knew many years ago.’ She began her tale. I could only listen, and will the fear and danger to disappear from my mind.

‘This young girl sat beneath a willow tree, the one which kept her company in her childhood years. She often danced beneath its weeping leaves as they fell slowly, gracefully to the bed of the woods. On this fateful day, in happiness she twirled in her new dress then collapsed amongst the creepers and dreamed. Hours later she awoke, startled, to the screams of something unknown. It was the most horrible sound she had ever heard. The sound came closer, but the young girl couldn’t identify it. She was wary. The screams were then accompanied by the sounds of men, of laughter. The girl stood, her heart raced. So completely full of terror, she froze, not knowing whether to stay or run. The screams came even closer, but she knew they were nothing to fear when the men were laughing. From the fog against the slowly setting sun, came running a distressed lamb. It ran toward the girl.

‘The girl could not say for sure that the poor creature knew she was a safe haven, a sanctuary, but as she quickly took the lamb in her arms, there was no struggle. Although there was no sign of an injury, the lamb was covered in blood. The girl nestled the poor being close to her, and felt its heart slowing to a normal pace. As the girl took her first steps, to take the precious baby to her home, she heard again the laughter of men. Their forms broke through the fog and when she spotted them, carrying the dead body of what she could only imagine was the mother of the lamb, she stopped breathing. The baby was frightened, and began to struggle in the girl’s grasp. She remained motionless, hoping the men would not see her in the fog. It took all her strength to forbid her own tears from falling.

‘Their heads turned, searching. They hadn’t seen the girl. Carefully, she stepped behind the willow, praying that the lamb would not cry. One man yelled to another to get some rope, while the other two began scouting the area for the lost lamb. They were distracted, looking away from the tree. It was her chance. Closing her eyes, she drew a breath and released, trying to remain calm with what she was about to do. She took two steps away from the tree, looked around and saw that no one was watching. It was just one hundred metres to the rhododendrons that she and her sister used to play hide and seek in. The dissipating fog was her only veil, and the woodland floor of creepers and twigs would give her away instantly. Stay or go, either way she could get caught. At least if she made a run for it, she might save a life. The girl looked down at the poor creature, its breathing laboured. The mother’s blood had smeared onto the girl’s new dress.

‘Her time was running out, but she smiled as the darkness formed a blanket, like mother earth knew and brought the night to her. Taking a deep breath, the girl started running. As she predicted, her movements alerted the men. They began yelling for the third man to come back, to bring his rifle. The girl was certain that they hadn’t seen her though, so she kept running. So often she ran. She knew she could reach the boundary before they could get to her. She was within a few feet of the rhododendrons when she heard the rifle go off, making her look back in terror. The lamb began crying again and the girl knew that the men would be able to follow the creature’s sounds. After the lamb quieted down, the girl turned to continue on her path, knowing it was safe, for the lanterns the men carried faced everywhere but in her direction. The lamb cried out again however, and the lanterns simultaneously pointed at the boundary. The girl crept into the shrubs and followed a narrow path that she and her sister created for themselves. They had walked and ran the path so many times that it knew them and welcomed them. The girl pushed through the stray branches and muffled the lamb’s cries as best she could with her now tattered dress. She felt as though her heavy breathing alone would be enough to give her away. Sweat trickled down her back, making the dress stick to her, and created difficulty when manoeuvring.’

The Strigoaicǎ paused. The cadence of her breath and voice stammered for she clearly felt the pain of the poor young girl in her story. Powerless, I knew that I was unable to comfort the creature of the night. She turned away, seemingly ashamed of her tears. As she wiped them away, she inhaled a jagged breath and continued her story.

‘The next day, the girl returned to the field where the willow stood and searched the area with hope of finding more lambs. An abhorrent sight made her fall to the ground and weep uncontrollably. The mother had been strung up in the willow, on display, with a note attached. In numbness, the girl cried in her head, The devil was here, and it was man!

‘A piece of parchment had been tied with string to one of the legs of the mother. Roughly, the girl wiped the flood of tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand before carefully untying the string. She did not wish to harm the mother even if she was already dead. The parchment was rolled ever so beautifully and tied with a bow of fine ribbon, forming only a greater hole in the girl’s heart, by that dagger of senseless violence. It was only when she unfurled the parchment, spreading blood across it, that she noticed her hands, tainted with the coldness that she saw before her.

‘The flow of letters, the curls and loops were so elegantly written with ink and quill as if there was some importance and formality, yet the words themselves created a feeling of dread in her. She felt completely drained and, no longer able to hold herself up, fell, lost in a reverie of emptiness. The girl rested her head against the willow, her eyes stared into nothing. She couldn’t even blink. Her head slumped as though it were a heavy burden. In deep, piercing melancholy, her mouth flew agape. She felt death upon her. Dead inside, if not truly dead.’

That was the end of the Strigoaicǎ’s tale. All she said was that the next days and years of that girl’s life were too painful to speak of. She said it was something that only that girl could bear the burden of. The Strigoaicǎ refused to tell me the debasing final act of the girl’s days as a mortal being.

© 2014

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