She was a goddess when divinity
The women come -- ancestral beads clicking
between dun breasts, painted leather snakes
coiling muscled arms -- they come.
They come to draw, to see
their likenesses, to hear the bucket smack
the water and to sip from their cupped palms.
embodied bone and blood and sweating flesh,
when icons drank and belched and slept among
When gods were not enough for other gods;
when lusts were met in human form.
Her god grew jealous.
He caged her with inhuman arms and flew
her to a village well. While standing rigid at
the rim, he looked at her and hated her.
Forgotten god, he wept. Believing love
for her -- inventing that she leapt from his
embracing arms -- he cast her down the well;
abandoned her to plead with lesser gods.
She is the harpy at
the bottom of the well, rampaging where
the water sludges into filth, floods dark
around and over her -- she storms and rants
in the bottom of the well. She sucks and gulps,
and breathes the water, always water.
How she longs for air and longs to climb
the slime bricked sides, to break the surface and
to frighten those who come to draw.
are raging endless circles. Stretching out
her arms and reeling as her fingers rake
the circle brick; she thrusts her hands up through
the water and her blood swirls down.
she will fly free of that deep well, and she
will shoot above the smooth cool surface
and leave it churning with her heat. She'll sleep
and wake and swallow air and she will fill
her lungs with feral voice. Her sounds will ring
Angels will scream in ecstasy
and demons clap their ears.
Copyright © 1995 Claire A. Schaeffer