POEM: Heartfire

In the sky above us, in the infinite sky,
Sol the light-giver, life-giver, all-seer,
a flaming fusion furnace 93 million miles away.

In the depth below us, the ineffable depth,
Vulcan the forge-beater, artificer, fire-maker,
a core of molten nickel spinning in the heart of the earth.

Between Sol and Vulcan, between sun and earth,
between globe of flaming gas and globe of molten metal,
our earth, our home, our houses, our hearths.
In our hearths, in our hearts, the fire in our spirit,
the link between gods above and gods below,
the priestess, the hostess, the fire-tender, the focus,
Vesta. Vesta. Vesta. Ave!

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POEM: Hekate and Hermes

Neither virgin nor crone but a mature woman
firm breasts that have not suckled
strong arms and strong legs
she runs through the night to meet him
at the crossroads, this place which they share:
Hekate Trioditis, Hekate Enodia,
Hermes Psykhopompos, Hermes Trikephalos

And there they lie down, when the moon is dark,
when the moon is full, Hermes laughing,
eternally youthful, his winged sandals kicked off,
his hat tossed aside, his wand planted in the earth
as he makes the lascivious joke about his other wand
rising up, ready to plant between his lover’s moist thighs

and Hekate eager, biting her lip, raising her skirts
with no fucking patience, no waiting whatsoever
as she rolls him beneath her, her torches to right
and to left, her wet cunt his heaven, his sweet seed
the fountain jetting up, splashing down

and the witches dance and the dogs howl
and the hounds bay and Hekate groans
and Hermes laughs and he rolls her over
and they do it again, and again, and again,
until the sun comes up and Hekate,
laughing under her breath, walks home
with the first rays of sun drying her gown

and Hermes flies away like an arrow
from the string, Zeus’ messenger boy,
and the dogs and the hounds roll over
and go back to sleep, and snore.

A Prayer for the Dead

My only sister died suddenly last Friday. She went to the emergency room on Thursday for severe stomach pain, went into cardiac arrest while being examined, and was resuscitated. After being on life support for about twenty-four hours, she was released, authorized by her daughter and her husband. She died soon after the machines were turned off, in the presence of her husband, her daughter, and her five-year-old grandson.

My sister and I were never close, partly due to the eleven years between us (she was the older). This still comes as a blow, in a year full of blows. A number of people close to me lost family members in the past ten days. As it happened, I had an invitation to a dinner party for Saturday night that included a brief Remembrance Day ritual. This had been planned and scheduled weeks ago; the friends who hosted it were friends of my ex-husband also and had sung for him. So we had this dinner, made offerings to the dead, told the bees in my friends’ hive, and sang some choral music in memory of my ex. I wrote this text for the ritual.

The dead are neither present nor absent.

They are neither near to us nor far from us.

They live in us, in our speech, in our hands, in our memories.

We die in them, the parts of us that go with them into the dark.

If they are hidden from us in the shadows,

we are hidden from them by the light.

Yet from time to time we come together

and join hands across the great divide.

They remember us no less than we remember them.

If they are forgotten, they, too, may forget.

Let us not forget our forefathers and foremothers, grandparents and parents,

children born or unborn, spouses and friends, mentors and teachers.

Let us take hold of what they left to us

that we may pass it on before we go.

Let us say their names and offer them our continuing love.