Monday, March 20, 2023

[Commentary] For the Love of Cupid

Two City of Norfolk workers stood on the path in Jeff Robertson Park looking utterly miserable as they faced a tiny statue of Cupid they’d been dispatched to dispatch.

“You go get him,” said one.

“I don’t do shrines,” said the second man. 

I was on a walk that takes me past the spot that runs beside the railway tracks between Hampton Boulevard and the Mallory Pool area.

“Don’t tell me the City sent you to come and get Cupid,” I laughed. 

The second man said, “Yep. Someone called him in. We can’t leave without him. But, you know how it is…”

I really didn’t know how it is to have to go and take away a little patch of hope from the world. It’s simply beyond me that folks nationwide feel so driven to regulate how other people show their preference for expressing their love.

For the record, I support LGBT-Qupid  both marital and statuary.

Speaking of marriage, believe me when I tell you that if anyone should be giving that little cherub the heave-ho it should be me as I process an unexpected divorce after 30 years of marriage.

Yet here I am lamenting the fact that someone can call the park PoPo and the next thing you know Cupid’s gotta go.

The only clue as to why anyone might have wanted him gone was a letter, dated one day earlier, from a woman berating her daughter’s affinity for the sculpture railing on and on about it being an alter to “witchcraft” and “matches forged in sorcery.” 

Wow. While my spiritual beliefs don’t run towards witchery, I am a strong believer in live and let live – hope and let hope.

Also, it wasn’t all that long ago that the few who objected to love locks on the Hague bridge overruled the many to have those symbols banished. From the structural integrity perspective I get it, but it still felt like another shot at Cupid’s devotees. 

The chainlink fence behind the statue was covered in little white ribbons with lovers’ names written on them. It reminded me of the Wishing Tree on Redgate Avenue where folks therapeutically write out their aspirations and tie them to the tree.

The tree’s “magic” power, I think, comes from the unity and empathy we feel when we read the notes. Here’s hoping nobody decided to deforest hope as the work of the Devil next.

Below the cherub, in Latin, is written: “Cupid Altaris Scriptor” – Cupid’s Alter. “Interroga me, et audi vochem tuam. Quae necessaria sunt amoros mist ad me.” 

My best guess with help from Google is: “Ask and your voice will be heard for what you need to find love.” 

It could also be Latin for, “I’m a tiny statue that can’t even fend off two City workers. I hope you have a B-Plan.”

The men looked at me, their B-Plan, and asked if I would take Cupid so they didn’t have to. 

As I lifted the statue, a small snake coiled beneath it’s base raised an arrow-like head. A forked tongue razzed me. 

“There will be no snake in the garden where Cupid’s going,” I whispered to the creature. In his safe new haven, all love is welcome. 

Cupid now sits in retirement in my garden. The altar, mostly hidden under the soil, will soon be covered by Forget-Me-Nots. He may not have protected my heart, but I’ve got his back.

* Lisa Suhay is a children’s book author living in Norfolk, Virginia.

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