Written by JM Williams / Artwork by Marge Simon
Through The Eyes of Ishtar
The poets place the blame on me, of course, for their heroes are all men and I am not. They call me the goddess of love and war, as if these are
separate concepts. War is the result of desire, lust, jealousy—all mere facets of the grand, timeless essence that is love.

Is it a bit too ironic for the goddess of love to be forever denied the very thing which she embodies? I have tried throughout the ages to find a love of
my own, but each time, the ember was snuffed out by circumstance.

Once I loved the Lion, magnificent in stature and peerless in strength. But while he was mesmerized by our passion, he fell into a hunter’s trap. I
wept for him for the passing of many suns.

Once I loved the Stallion; fast as lightning, his silky hair rippled like the flags of conquest in the summer breeze. To be his partner, I desired to ride
upon him. But once the bindings were placed, he raged at the confinement and chose freedom over our love.

Once I loved the Songbird, his plumage the greatest art, his music divine. He took me into the sky every morning, delighting in my joy. But one day,
he became distracted by my gleeful screams and crashed into a tree, breaking his wing, which grounded him forever.

Once I loved a Shepherd, diligent and smart; he honored all nature. But nature came to threaten his flock, and I felt compelled to aid him. When the
wolves came to take his sheep, I turned him into to a larger, more formidable beast so he could fight them off on their own terms. But in that form,
the people turned against him, blinded by ignorance and fear, not seeing him as the man they had always known.

People are fickle, their hearts unable to grasp the true reality of love. Their love is easy. They love what fits comfortably into their small worlds.
They fail to imagine anything greater.

Still the poets blame me for the trouble of my lovers. Is it not always the woman’s fault for a man’s troubles? But was it not a woman who brought
the beastman, Enkidu, from the forest to tame a malevolent king? And yet it is only
he they call hero.

Once I offered myself to Gilgamesh, that very king. The poets say I was enamored by his beauty, lustful for his body. But what I saw in him was
the man he would become. He was once a selfish and petty ruler, but I saw the sage he would one day be. And I saw how he would survive the end
of his people—all cast into the great flood—and how he would endure eons without a companion. I wished to be that companion, to honor his legend
and his life, to give myself to him and make him whole.

But he refused me, his opinion tainted by the slanders of the poets. Gilgamesh blamed me for the Lion and the Stallion and the Songbird.

It was too much to endure the reopening of my heart’s scars, so I fled to the safe arms of my father. Filled with parental rage, it was he who sent
the beast against Gilgamesh, threatening the world. History has shown that fathers are the ones most prone to overreaction. But the poets blamed me,
as they always do, because a woman must be temperamental and vindictive. A woman must be like a child—for if not, would she not be a man’s
equal?

What is left for me? How can I endure this heartbreak? What is love but broken promises? In the end, even Gilgamesh lost his beloved Enkidu. The
joys of love are brief, the pain endless.

But I see in the faces of the people something greater, something that endures both fire and storm. They live their lives in devotion—to the gods, and
to themselves. It is devotion that carries on, even in tragedy. Gilgamesh’s devotion to his partner carried him across a terrible journey, as he sought
the secret of life. Oh, how I wish to ask him what he discovered. But how can I bear another castigation?

Perhaps I can find my peace in devotion. But what can I devote myself to? To what can I offer my full being? Has the answer has been with me the
whole time?

Love. I can devote myself to that timeless, unbreakable love. The love of a shepherd for his flock, or of a hero for his companion. Surely such love
is a force more powerful than all others, one which can transcend the baser power of lust, which can stand in defiance of war.

I am the goddess of love and I will devote myself to you. Hear me in the heartbeat of your child, in the breath of your lover, in the quiet peace of
your temple.

For you, I will protect that which I, myself, will never know.
THE LORELEI SIGNAL
JM Williams is the author of five books and around forty-five short fiction
pieces published in a range of venues including Bards and Sages, Over My
Dead Body! Mystery Magazine, and The New Accelerator. He has earned
six Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future Contest and several
other writing awards. He is the co-founder of OF METAL AND MAGIC
PUBLISHING, currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief and managing six
other writers.

He lives in Korea with his wife and cats—teaching, writing, and blogging at
www.jmwilliams.home.blog.