My Love, Artemis

Andrew Kenny

The first I ever saw of you was the light’s reflection on the cold wet stone of your feet. I stood before your form, which had fallen into the darkened water. I saw the shifting of your body from the meagre lamp’s rippling. A dread of darkness was kindled within me. The oil I had been given was beginning to burn low, but I stayed there at your feet, following the shape of you and hearing distant footfalls. They echoed down and around broken halls. I could tell you were a woman by those feet. They had a curve in them and there was a delicacy to the buds of your toes. I touched them. 

I touched each one of them. 

By this, I mean that I clasped your feet as I crouched, lowering myself to the ground. Sitting on these half-submerged, half-dusted steps, I removed my shoes and then my socks. My toes were at your heels. I wiggled them, finding the stone beneath its grey blanket of dust and grime. It was a different cold to yours. It was dull compared to your cooling light. 

I rolled up my knickerbockers to my thigh and stood. I took my first step into the darkened water. I had my hand in your shine to guide my way and I soon got to your knees. My hand’s shadow over you comforted me. You were the certainty in unknown darkness. Your kneecaps felt like hills. Even then, at that age, I knew not to lay my hand on the curve of your thigh. I raised it and brought it freely through the water until I touched your stone again, your skirt. Moss grew somewhere along your thigh and the ripples of your clothing felt like rolling hills and it seemed I held all the country when I held you. There were trails in your cracks and homes in your ridges. 

You were turned at your torso to face the side. I let my hand slide into yours. I stopped. I enjoyed it. I felt my way up the long island of your arm to where it joined your shoulder. 

I had never touched the bare shoulder of a woman before or seen one with such a short skirt for that matter. What was this creature I held? I could see nothing now save a small glimmer next to you. It called me below. 

I checked back up the steps to ensure no one was coming. Bells and feet were still in distant discoveries. I drew a breath, prepared myself for the fearful separation from light, and plunged my face into the gently lapping water. 

The tip of a bow caught my eye. Your bow, I mean. It was silver, its tips beginning to rust. It illuminated your fingers like how stars illuminate the void of space. The silver string was at rest against your forearm. I played it like a harp, running my fingers along both your arm and the string. 

In that moment, in that water, you were a shifting multitude, waxing and waning like the moon. I did not see the moss, cracks, and edges in that dimness. I saw your soul, freed in ambiguity. I saw your essence, unbound. 

I shifted myself to be more with you beneath the surface, breath thoroughly caught after being held. I had never been this close to a woman, a female figure. I saw your head. I placed my hand on the back of it and placed the other between your shoulder blades. I felt your quiver and the tips of your arrows. I dodged in between the bow and you. 

You were steady and firm, a comfortably immovable weight about me. My fingers found the grooves of your hair, running along them like rivers in their beds. I gripped the quiver and pulled myself closer through the water until I touched your knee with mine. 

I don’t know if I would have kissed you. I tell myself now that I wouldn’t have. That it would have been foolish. It would have been. It would have been a kiss. You have lips, after all. You could not have kissed back, I know, but I think I would have kissed you. 

At last, my breath gave way. I erupted from the water and a moment later a light appeared beyond the dense wet hair over my eyes. I parted them. My shin was against your stomach, just below your ribs. 

Father was looking down at us and my old lantern sat accusingly by his foot. His suit’s wrinkles cast veiny shadows across him and his tie was loose. His knees were greyed with dust. He called for the hired men and I waded up the slope. I paused at the edge of the water, my bare foot tucked under your knee. 

I was draped in a blanket as they pulled you from the water. I had never seen the female body so exposed, except for when I was a baby, I suppose. Half your thighs were bare, though your skirt came down further at the back. I blushed but Father didn’t seem to see a problem. 

Your eyes had slits and chasms in them. They led to darkness and the lanterns cast shifting shadows. They once again bore your soul inside that stone form. It was tall, imposing. I saw now that you did not smile. You had scars. I pulled the blanket tighter around my chest. 

‘You found her, my boy,’ Father said. ‘Artemis.’ 


‘Goddess of the hunt.’ 

Goddess of the hunt. 

For a goddess, you looked young. It seemed you were only a little older than me, five years or so maybe. It was ridiculous to even bother trying to justify the age gap in my mind. I stopped wearing knickerbockers after that. 

I would watch at night as they cleaned you. When they were done and the lights turned off, I would stand against the window of the room and look in at you, all draped in shadows and darkness. Not even the moon could reach you. That was where you taught me to not fear the darkness. It was yours. The darkness was your hunting ground. The night and all my thoughts at night belonged to you. 

My love, I miss you. 

Author: Andrew Kenny likes to think he is funny. In fact, he has liked to think this for all of his life. As of yet, no one has had the heart to tell him otherwise outright, so here we are. Like everybody else, he’s got a dream.

Artist: Zoe Hawker is a multi-disciplinary student artist working with sculpture, installation, and painting. Her self-reflexive practice aims to decode the absurdities of our current culture.

Editors: Brock Scholte and Rory Hawkins