Ode to Hypatia- Adieu to Myths

by Lisa Rosenblatt

Nine conspired in the grove of wood and wind and stream
the lapwing, roebuck and the whelp, beholden to Demeter
told her they espied Lord Hades spirit away Persephone
he cleaved the ground asunder with a truncheon hewn from alder
swinging roguish from his fist and through the cleft descended
to the boggy realm of Death
made by the conquering gods of yore - a thinly veiled contrivance
and foisting upon her crown and throne
what need has she of pretensions?
she knows her true inheritance
never before her station and her mind hath come undone,
she consumed the fruit forbidden,
 instead of Queen she be like Rook
reserved till the end of the game
she came to know her folly, to be like one of us and let loose a cry so
piteous
  that rowan, birch and ash were moved
to instruct the Nine in letters,
and Nine would plot with the Fates to solve this mortal riddle
for Persephone and the christened three,
 Beth-Luis-Nion
held court, but in their season and like binary stars were bound
 by the demise of all things magical
 like another three exiled to a realm without it’s merry men
 fixed and empirical
 white raiser, red reaper and darkest still, the winnower of the grain
the Elysian Fields fell barren; Isis was forsaken,
forsaken and forgotten, the mother of them all, the oldest of them old
 though wisest is she still and Amergin loved her well
he bestowed upon her verse and saith:
“She be the lure of paradise, the tide that drags to death,
 she peeps from the unhewn dolmen arch, this tomb of every hope.”
but to me she seems like a foraging hen, with lustrous, well-preened
feathers,
 or bony plowing ox now free from all its fetters,
 like a snowy crane on ruddy leg as a fish it’s beak impales
she comes to me in black and white;
she comes in throbbing colors and fain to show me why she is
 aconite she calls bread
this one who seems like a whip tailed rat running rampant in the granary
she darts like silver minnow and knows the sky like chipping sparrow
she dons a mask of ammonite of never ending spirals
the whorls in bas-relief on a magnificent door of basalt
 and having her own design
changes three or nine to one
and calls the one Cardea, who swings both to and fro,
 keeper of the altar, your canticle sways the stars
Diana cast aspersions, spells of the fiercest sort
 she turned the hounds on master
Actaeon, she hissed, you may not take by force, what is mine alone to give
then signaling to her sisters, bid the fallen stag to witness, so slowly
though it seemed
 that winter yielded to the Twins, the equinox of spring,
 and with words unuttered the eight had deemed, with their blood the earth
was cleansed
Envious Mars, what of you, still stranger to the chalice
while Endymion slept in his lover’s arms your proclivity toward violence
 gave rise to motherless nations doomed, not Solomon’s song of songs;
your lifeless waters, sepulchered beds, be the graves of bastard kings
and Macbeth rues, even now, three witches and his queen
the tarnished blade is refused the wine, ever covetous of Life;
 come tell the name of your sacred king that your hundred hands hath made
mute art thou by design no speech have you to give!
Sirius crouches on all fours faithful to Osiris
upon the earth poor she dog grovels then searches out the dogbane patch
 instinct is her rule, clever is she not
clever is my daughter too, for her Pan covets feet
 so that he can keep abreast with such a one as she
clever lips, clever eyes, clever no longer screams;
she descends from the Chair of Idris, in scarlet leather boots,
with a woad about her wrist and neck akin to silver circlets
 except that these be aubergine with a most peculiar scent
numberless were her dreams, of flight and water-serpent,
and what gifts were brought by Mab!
  too hideous to witness,
 that she should take her by the arm and upon ascension,
croon in guarded, jealous voice kept secret from the Sirens,
a tale in twisted tongue
so laconic and melodic
that upon awakening a certain bond was forged
 between those scheming calico cats
the affection stains my daughter’s lips and with every utterance,
 obliged she is to tell why the cacophony reached its zenith at the rape of
Clytemnestra
and the death of Agamemnon-
-well-
the sightless Crone who threshes still, metes out the truest justice
 my hierophant had reined her thoughts, her four and wild horses
and in tribute to fair Blodeuwedd,
for their necks she weaves a garland
strands of fleur-de-lis
and gestures with her burnished hands that move like falling leaves
 a language of numbered letters outstripping Pythagoras,
then upon the empty space between us paints these hieroglyphic codes
maneuvering atoms thus, this maestro says to me:
great beings, are we not, ma mere?
beings graced with reason
I am mistress of my land and shall not suffer treason!
come now mother, sing with me, the eleventh hour has come;
though never born, the mother was slain, the mother rises like sun
and against us none shall lift a hand
 we’re swifter now than Hermes and our loins sacred again
her gilded robe she unfastens, I see she is not mistaken,
“Oh blessed, lovely creature, how I cherish that you have forsaken
the billhook of obsidian and adorn that supple thigh with sickle
reap the wheat, daughter mine and cease all frivolous battle!”
we’ve no more need for killing fields; sons and lovers shun your tombs,
give us your heart, your shield, your soul
honor death no more
grieve Hypatia then, for the love she gave Orestes;
 she did not heed his namesake and her bones were stripped of flesh
some say it was Lenten Day
 (but I for certain, know not- so for certain I won’t say)
the tattered remnants of her Self
 strewn upon inverted streets of a new religion
as though it were mere notation- another act of madness
 Alexandria, those books…
too much contained therein-our only sin- the letters!
and the guilty hands be Cyril’s, who purports to be a Christian
though Cyril knew quite well, this artful politician
that a sacrifice was needed
and to this day a cruder method has yet to be devised
and how many moons have seen this, the usurped governance?
yet the hour has been recorded that Justice will have her Reign
and lest I be mistaken order emerged from chaos
not in vain does the pendulum swing lest purpose be rendered meaningless
Taliesin, son of Cerridwen could thou pass through her again?
with Love as the crowning privilege, could it sate your thirst for
knowledge?
Could you resurrect the sacred grove
 defiled by that spiteful, petulant god of war
who erects an obelisk in his very own honor
methinks that such a pillar bespeaks
 mayhaps too loudly doth protest
 a lingering sense of vanquished, nominal demeanor
and each brutality has been witnessed by the Tigris and Euphrates
it is not their fault that they are tainted ochre
they swear that they are blameless!
they whisper to the rushes, to the fish without the scales,
to the reckless lovers racing to make the tender reeds their bed
she and he, their graceful limbs twining like clematis
but the lovers heed them not and their whispers turn to wails
fleeing homeward to the sea seeking naught but absolution
 and Isis sojourns endless, her path it be ellipsis
 hastening toward Hypatia, hastening toward Osiris
from her there is no hiding as she gathers up the pieces
and why should there be fear when the firmaments she rearranges
if all the wrongs be righted then the myths must come undone

(c) 2004

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