It’s National Poetry Day! (I mean, not in the nation I live in, but when it comes to poetry, I’m not picky.) The theme is stars, so here’s a poem with stars in it, previously published only in a small zine called Dark Illuminati, about ten years ago.
Holly Grove She told me it was the oldest grove of holly trees in the world, or maybe just the country, I forget which. "It's two days after midsummer," she said, "But close enough for a celebration." All the mythic elements were there -- history in the fiber of ancient live trees (like that poor girl who ran from Apollo and, transformed into a laurel, had to stand still forever just to get away), the stars pinwheeling slowly through their elaborate ballroom-dance courses, nude-girl naiads splashing in the shallow water, and somewhere a snorting bull roaming the darkness, deep-chested and archetypal. There aren't a lot of happily-ever-afters in those old stories; the gods of the Mediterranean were too human for those, too firmly planted in the middle of the world, for all their Olympian posturing. Love affairs often ended with people turned into trees or flowers or lonesome sounds. (Orpheus was lucky. His lover died before she could abandon him in a more prosaic fashion) (No, that's ridiculously bitter. He wasn't lucky. He was smashed apart by grief and furies) I watched my ex-lover swim in the moonlight, Psyche to my Cupid, Helen to my -- well, say Faust. I thought about all the things those long-ago folk had to endure just to become constellations. Let her go, then. I don't want her to transform herself to escape me, to be a tree in my backyard. I don't want her if I have to make bargains with the lords of the underworld, or even the dark things in my private caverns. Let us both live on in the middle of this earth, and the middle of our own stories. You don't always have to fall apart over love falling apart. I sat on a log by the fire and looked at the flames and the pale shapes of the other girls nymphing away in the two-days-after-midsummer dark, watching night fall on one mythic time, but aware always of later chances to become part of a beautiful future constellation.