Sometimes We Are Cassandra’s Children

Poets are Cassandra’s children
nevertheless and also because of this
we continue to mark our words
against the hope that we are heard
tell truths that prickle
but wear collars of inevitability
that make of us mute birds
when we speak out
against the war and wall
and our words get lost
in folly of bomb fall
we were right, we are right,
we caw, we caw
but the words can’t seem to rise
beyond our craw. — Annette Marie Smith

All the Flames

The night comes in the same way that Odin travels the roads and paths between the worlds: portended from afar, his heavy walking stick booming as it hits the cobblestones of stars, and yet a surprise in sudden arrival. Street lamps flicker on of their own accord as my hand makes the sign of peace that the stroke of a light switch can be. All the flames — sulfur, incandescent, sodium vapor,and more — all the flames dance in welcome. — Annette Marie Smith

Messenger god along the road

From the “Places the Mail Took Me” series by Annette Marie Smith

Letters hold small spirits of their senders
bright in the form of thoughts, ideas, emotions.
Guiding these spirits from one person’s world to another’s
are letter-carrier-psychopomps
who steer Charon paper boats
fragile on the river Distance
and the thrashing Angeliafóros sea. — Annette Marie Smith

Dog-eared but much loved

Photo Copyright Annette Marie Hyder

Remember the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, how in that story a boy’s love for his favorite toy, a velveteen rabbit, brought it to life while concomitantly wearing it down and making it shabby? In The Velveteen Rabbit, the toy is loved so much that it becomes real even as it loses its soft velvet fur and the pink of its nose, as its whiskers fall out and the stuffing gets lumpy from so much hugging.

Books, similarly, can, if they are loved, come to life — even if they are loved by only one reader. Imagine a book like Dr. Clarissa Pinkola EstésWomen Who Run With the Wolves and how many lives it has touched, how it continues to do so, and how it sings through its readers’ lives in their thoughts and consequent actions.

The book in the photo above is my copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves, dog-eared but alive, in the way that it continues to influence me, and much loved. It makes me happy that my 17-year-old daughter is now reading this book full of
wisdom, myths, and stories about the wild woman
archetype. Second generation love for this book!

Photography by Ryan McGinley

healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life
force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”  Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves. Quote
 and photo via Ravenous Butterflies.

Links of interest:
Digital archive of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
AfterMidnightWriter: Underground Writings of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know
Ravenous Butterflies

On the other hand

Mechanical Doll by Tim Walker

More Hands
By Annette Marie Hyder

Sometimes one pair of hands is not enough.
The gift of arms, Kali style, is called for
along with a thousand Akanda flowers with seed,
the wind-up key of coffee and the metaphor
of a feathered instrument
to scratch against a tabula rosa —
or is that just me?

Sunday Things: Persephone

Image courtesy of Poetic Wanderlust

And Birds and Bees
By Annette Marie Hyder

Did you see Persephone come in the night
with her long dark hair floating behind her
like waters unbound
and her ghost-white feet rocking the cradles of roots
with every step she took?

Were you awake this morning when her hair reflected
every color of every flower
like a myriad butterflies
and there were wings, trembling in their newness,
in their eagerness, growing from her ankles just above her feet?

Did you hear the hum of the bees, the twitter of birds
that circled, jewels with beaks and stingers that laced around her neck?
Did you feel your back stretch as if you too had wings to unfurl,
and flowers to wake and words to write
with the sharp edge of a roses’ thorn or the quick dart of bee’s sting?

Capture your colors while you may and run and laugh and sing and play
spring is here and likewise so are you.

(NaPoWriMo day 28)

Sunday Things: Happy Easter 2013!

I was taught from a young age, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, that the symbols and practices that are specific to Easter are of pagan origin. This was presented as a bad thing reeking of false gods and satanic influence: sinister bunnies furred in demonic profligacy hopping down the broad and spacious road to destruction, eggs, symbols of reproduction, colorfully displaying unbridled concupiscence wrapped up in their delicate shells, the name Easter a sly wink of Anglicization performed upon the name of the Babylonian goddess of love and pleasure/reproduction and sex, Ishtar.

It’s true. These symbols and the very name Easter do have pagan origins. You can read about it here, here, here, and here. And of course there is always scholarly debate

But what I have come to understand is that pagan symbols are an ancient well that we go to, bucket in hand and that the water is not tainted, not poisonous, but sweet. There are beautiful acknowledgments of the sacredness of life and of the beauty of rebirth in those (now candy hued) eggs and in those bunnies (with fluffy tails). Now when someone asks me, “Did you know that the symbols associated with Easter are pagan in origin?” I say, “Yes! Isn’t that a beautiful tribute to the beliefs of those who came before us?” It is an homage to the themes that connect us all: the cycle of life and death/rebirth and decay with, in this case, the emphasis on renaissance, revival, and resurrection.

And also, I really like bunny ears

Persephone Sleeping

By Annette Marie Hyder

Persephone sleeps.
It is that time of year when she is as much in limbo
as the frozen trees and lakes and silenced katydids.
She has dropped her scepter mid-flourish and swooned
to cushions made ready for her annual foray
into the long corridor that is a dream
that connects winter to the spring.

Her pomegranate lipstick
(a personal choice to flaunt and celebrate her scars)
curves along her lips in a soft smile
(ah pomegranate, whose tiny seeds were sown like dragon’s teeth
with, not warriors, but the whirlwind  for her to reap).
Her lids are curtains drawn to shield the dream
of spring that all the flowers dream concomitantly too.

Her heavy lashes, an equal mix of wool and silk, are tie-down sashes
that hold her eyelids to her cheeks.
She is left to use her pale hands to trail along the narrow walls
which are bas-reliefed with roots and painted drear.
She walks up the long corridor, a greater Eurydice but blind,
gaining substance as she goes, ghosting from one realm to this other.

Her yearly reemergence is, and perhaps I am the first to tell you this,
a long sleepwalk out of hell, a lucid dream as well
one in which she knows she will awaken
on a bed of flowers beneath open skies
that draw her gaze to trace infinity.

She knows she has not left her other self behind.
She cannot. She carries the seeds of death sewn cunningly
in her hair. Braided with maypole ribbons and set to take flight
into the air — on the first zephyr breeze that comes along.
But those seeds also have within them every brief splash and splurge of color
every petal yet unfurled. Such is the weight of life and death she carries in her curls
as she lies sleeping, chthonic/kore Persephone.