by Michael R. Burch
and her words
were like a ringing echo dying
or like smoke
rising and drifting
while the earth below is spinning.
with a cry
from a dream that had no ending,
or strength to rise,
into hopelessness descending.
And an ache
in her heart
toward that dream, retreating,
left a wake
of small waves
in circles never completing.
Originally published by Romantics Quarterly
Keywords/Tags: Circe, enigma, enigmatic, enchantress, siren, enchanted, witch, goddess, magic, Ulysses, pigs, sty
Danger be the man who bleeds the plights
of men of myth.
Don't you know that even Troy fell?
I do not throw pebbles at
your window in the night.
My eyes: yellow, unclouded;
mead and flowers drip thick
from my words:
banal and intoxicating.
Poppies blooming wild on timeworn cheeks,
Wine-dark hair in disarray.
Perhaps I have read too much into
the man who has read it all.
And perhaps he is only sea-mist mirage
cursed to appear an Adonis.
I made the ocean so that you would cross it.
It is only in this forced distance that
I am allowed to transcend this plain world;
in which I am bound to book
and you are bound to her.
Because in a land of gods and monsters
it seems not so strange that I am the other woman.
Clever sorceress who loves and lets you leave,
and with whom you know you might have stayed
Sail far, far away from me.
sail far, far away from me, storied king, favored by the gods
We stood at that crossroads,
bathed in lamplight,
he never even knew this was the end of us.
He pulled me close, closer
than I had ever been held
and I knew
we could never see each other again.
Under the wash of night,
I had finally found a ship calling out to me.
Someone had heard my call for help.
Someone had seen me.
For so long it was I who left them:
where they stood;
where I could still love them.
But I pushed him ahead of me.
I stood there and made him leave me
before my heart could chase after him.
He tried to turn back to me
with one last
dream-defying grin and I
squeezed my eyes shut.
I saw him once more after that,
I missed him by just a second,
I did not call out to him.
Our time together was over.
He told me to sail to him,
and the magic words to say;
I vowed for her sake to never utter them.
Witch? *****, who are you?
Locked on an island, alone.
Roasting pork, witch. *****.
It’s hard to conjure up a forest fire
My flames are quiet and I tremble
I buckle at the knees
My fight or flight senses were birds in their past lives
I am sorry I was not born Achilles, marching into every war with certainty, never knowing a sliver of doubt
Prophecies of greatness do not cling to me like summer air
I open my mouth and words betray me, for I am no Odysseus with his honey tongue
But heed this promise: I will create something one day
A great many somethings, born not from innate divinity but perseverance
Like Daedalus with his artist’s mind, craftsman’s hand, quiet thinking, deliberate talking
I am becoming
Like golden witch Circe in Aeaea, feeling her way through strange new grounds
Someday, someday, somewhere else
You will see me bloom
I imagine you there now:
naked, skilled in spells.
Your toes in the sand,
your bright green eyes radiant:
Another form that is new to me. Be kind...
What should we have expected from new ascents?
You think there is simple safety in messages sent?
Melancholic waves descend, lonely veins sink in,
If I was simple before, you'd be able to see,
See through the extremities that bounded me.
But how could a flower begin these internal spins?
Bounded by piety to seek love away from sin,
Destined, we hope that this one will sink in.
If life's a play then this one is just pretend,
And the toil of tragedy, revealed at play's end.
But if this life is an Odysseun ode,
Then oh! the wonders to be told!
For each new ascent, a heroic tale,
On the way down, purified hail.
For we have cast Circe like Jonah's whale,
And fly alongside a dove's tail,
Whose wings spread in glorious white,
Revealing Leila, mistress of the night.
— The End —