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Monday, February 23, 2009

Mythical transformations

Here is my latest poem, which again takes inspiration from a classic myth — the story of Daphne as told by the Roman poet Ovid. I struggled a bit with the ending, and I'm still not quite satisfied with it. I've also been trying to pay more attention to spoken rhythms. I may yet re-write parts of it. 

Metamorphosis
By Francis Scudellari

With mythic suddenness, as if
set upon by a god's whimsy--
for deep lust or petty anger--
a reposed Daphne she transforms.
Her crowning, walnut strands thicken,
vine outward, a loosed-leaf wrap round
trellised bed, budding ends a-twirl
to bind her to this dreamed waking.

A too-soft heart become bark-clad
thrusts fibrous roots downward, thirsty
gray coils that seek wormy passage
through black soil, to moist tiers below.
Four fleshy limbs harden, turn to
knotty stalks; skyward-bent, pale shoots
freckled with bulging pods that flare
in pollen rich scarlet bursting.

Broad petals splay wide to attract
noon-day sun's lurid stare, its heat;
Liquid thoughts made misty, to sigh
up-swept words, and gathered clouds seed.
Her essence in droplets returns
to mother long forgot, and feeds
a self-less spring cycling; her growth's
exquisite pain subsides to peace.
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