This is written by Ronald Petrou. Ronald and I first spoke on the phone about a year ago, after he had read my posts on Zina. He sent this yesterday as a response to one of my Zina posts, and he gave me permission to reprint it here as a blog entry.
I knew Zina and Conrad Rooks in Athens in 1962-63. She was my living example of a "White Goddess." I had been reading Robert Graves and found Zina to be the embodiment of a woman with the gifts of beauty, generosity of spirit, and inclination whose task was to inspire men. One day she gave me as a gift, Ziddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. She was the only woman I have ever known who in conversation looked directly at me with her wonderful, large blue eyes, and asked me, "Ron, what do you think?" with such sincerity that awakened a new sense within me of who I was and what I could do.
I became friends with her husband and was for 6 months involved with him in New York in 1964-65 while he was making Chappaqua. I met Zina for the last time during that period and went for a walk with her from her midtown hotel to the hip restaurant, PJ Clarks. She took my hand and we walked along the electrically charged New York City streets as if we were two children or two lovers. Her nature was sexual and innocent at the same time. After I dropped her off at her hotel a few hours later, I accidentally put my hand to my face and discovered the scent of Zina’s perfume. I smiled and her presence remained with me for several hours. I can recall in detail that walk and that scent even now.
The poem by Robert Graves, “The White Goddess,” captures some of Zina's magic.
All saints revile her and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo's golden mean --
In scorn of which I sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom I desired above all things to know
Sister of the mirage and echo.
It was a virtue not to stay,
To go my headstrong and heroic way
Seeking her out at the volcano's head
Among pack ice, or where the track had faded
Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers:
Whose broad high brow was white as any leper's
Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,
With hair curled honey-colored to white hips.
Green sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate the Mountain Mother,
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But I am gifted, even in November
Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
I forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Careless of where the next bright bolt may fall.
Zina is a living presence for me even now, 47 years after I met her.
However, although she once invited me to go with her to Katmandu when she was having difficulties with Conrad, who was then known as Russell, not as her lover but as her friend and the teacher for her young son, Alexander, I recognize now that I was wise to go my own way.
I am sure that in the spiritual world or here in our world if she has reincarnated, she carries with her gift-giving capacities few human beings possess.