This poem is entirely composed of direct quotations from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (utilizing the Robert Fagles translation*), and contains quotations referring to each of the four major female characters: Helen, Clytemnestra, Cassandra, and Iphigenia.
* * * *
A wild creature, fresh caught-
She must learn to take the cutting bridle.
She left her land chaos; strode through the gates defiant
Bride of spears, a bride of tears, a fury
Whirled her wedding on to a stabbing end.
Her beauty hurts her lord, the bridle chokes her voice.
She strains to call their names, her glance like arrows showering.
She is the lioness. What outrage- the woman kills the man!
That detestable hell-hound, monster of Greece – girl of tears.
A beast to the altar driven on by god.
*Aeschylus. The Oresteia. Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1977.
I reached the point of making up a creature as I went along, instead of following a written pattern. I did take enough notes afterward that I could potentially make it again, and eventually I think I’ll experiment with this style of mushroom crittur.
The black leaves are sharp against the sky, and that is more important than most things I will do today. So is the way the sky softens over the glowing mountains, a gentle dusk. There is something vast and sharp and a little sweet here, something that tastes like bladed poems do. It is out of reach. There is something there, but the sky is untouchable, and the day rolls out instead in a long dull road of dishes and notepaper and forgotten coats.
It is all beautiful and unfurling,
it is only that there are so many layers of petals to breath through
and they are all twining and curling
quite bluntly through my lungs.
I am sure it is quite all right,
if I can only take deep breaths and move more slowly
and remember it does no good to fight
stray thorns that trellis up my heart.
The world is interlocking,
detail building on detail like petals on a rose
all of it in motion like swallows flocking
in shifting perfect patterns across the sky.
Sit very still in the center
or a corner; it is the same place for you.
Be quiet. Your heart lies still as the naked winter.
The whole sky folds in fractal blooms.