Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Minerva (2003)

Romano-Celtic solid bronze
votive in the form of the helmeted head
of Minerva from 1st century CE was
found at former temple of Sulis
in Great Britain. Intensely stylized,
she wears a high crested
helmet decorated on either side with
dolphins. Her hair falls in locks at the
perimeter of her helmet. Her facial detail,
including her wide eyes, broad nose and
tightly closed lips, is strongly preserved.

Something deep in me
stares hard into blue
waters; something deeper
stares back. Wider eyes
than mine focus me
down salt orizons. All I know
she sang to me
up the dolphin panniers
of Your well. She rules the
longing of my hand
the way the surf
caresses down
a moon-wracked shore,
wave by darkling wave.
Every poem peers
down a depth of
brine, seeking that
bedded isle on
which she waits for
me. Every tree there
is bent with her
nippling fruit; the
very ground at
her feet leaks
a savage, milky sound.
Her eyes are everywhere
my view’s engaged:
like pyres they
freight the day with
glittering lakes and blazing
chrome. She swims
in the slitted eyes of our
cats as I slowly
pet them into a syrupy purr.
She stares back
hardest in every woman
of my day, their eyes
averted but their
breasts below
so round and loud,
burning me alive.
Her eyes flame
high in all dim
places, igniting words
I don’t or can’t fully
name. Yet for all the
heated ire of her
eyes, her mouth
is utterly silent,
the lips taut as stone,
gathering me here
only to tell no news.
In her silence she
is most terrible,
voracious for
the echo of my
naked voice,
sliding up
and down its salt
blue registers,
unslakable, beyond
every word I hurl.
Of course, it
is I who irrupts
her: I pulled her votive
dripping from
the well, & held it here
in this next poem’s
light, writing down
each gorgeous sound.
Minerva I don’t know
what to make of you
quite yet, the
song today is
too perplex, inchoate
and diffuse. All I
can do is lay
this poem across
your dolphin thighs
and bid your flame
goof day before the
real sun rise --
A mortal man
with goddess fins,
her wildest blue
the iris of my view.


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