Cave Voices

We don’t know starlight
so long here in the dark
Stay—the labyrinth is safe
quite safe! The monster gone
long and long ago
I didn’t mean to say We
I am quite alone

I follow the thread of her voice
her singing in earth-heart
how unlike the glass-chime
grinding of the spheres
in my clockwork daylight
more like breath of stardust
life-ember hum

The labyrinth is endless
and no cheating death

The thread of her voice
all stardust echoes stilled

The monster is still here
rumbling, low and long

Star Daughter

How the myth begins
as always, with this need to explain
the emptiness, the ache
these voices lost in the void

As always, with this need to explain
beginning, middle, end
these voices lost in the void
blossom sun-bright, then falling

Beginning, middle, end
the path labyrinthine in darkness
(blossom sun-bright, then falling)
glass-chime worlds grinding

The path labyrinthine in darkness
though the cave echoes with stardust
glass-chime worlds grinding
the spheres’ music to silence

Though the cave echoes with stardust
with emptiness and ache
the spheres’ music is silent:
how the myth begins


Red seeds piled in plastic bowl—
I wonder how this fruit could so tempt
a girl. When I first read how Persephone fell
for it, I had never seen or tasted one.
I imagined something bigger,
substantial, sweet.

There’s a binful at the store, tumbled,
lumpish; I take one home, open it,
separate flesh from seed, meditate on myth
and moral. I see that I too could chain myself
for the sake of something fleeting,
gleaming, small.

As the Old Gods Will

Sea whispers to me in my drowning dreams,
and you who balance life and death must know
the debt to pay for treasure stolen thus
from those whose hurts and needs you’d sworn to heal—
blood gold with which you build on burning sand
fool’s fort to keep my heart and gift well-hid.

And if I wished to be their sacrifice?
My people’s fear now spills in hissing waves;
they know the sea god means to take his price.
Just hear! His call to me is calm and deep:
a silent slip into a lover’s arms,
brief storm, then stillness, peace—my part fulfilled.

Thanks to Jane Dougherty for sharing her two-sentence story inspired by this painting, and for inviting me to add this imagining of what happened next.

Once and Future

These years I have burnished
silver, shelved desire
as a thing to sip and sniff
parceled out love as if
the supply might dry up—
What use? Tonight, dozing
fireside, if snow-wind brings
blackbird note, I’ll swallow whole
a drop of hot sun enough
to build and howl and spill

and light my way
to riverside where summer
bridge glints gossamer
humming like bees—
only a step into the forest
fleet-foot past crone’s hut
to rain-hung green-washed glade
where he waits, my blackbird boy
dark-eyed, impatient
to take me to his breast


All that long-lighted day I watched her
rope-spinning, flinging it bridge-ways
across the clear river, bee-hum loud
in the glade. Rain held off and held off
as it did in such a summer (a wizard’s trick
or maybe of the crone herself). A girl gathering
words like blackberries, fingers mouth juice-
stained and she never saw me in her headlong
desire but oh, I would have told her heartsease
is not worth the price. For a word I would have
told her an eased heart is nothing, songless.
But she came by belief and all that light-
long day I watched her, aching, for it was
only a step to the crone’s hut and now
she’ll never find her way back.