“Spirit of Drought,” Arthur Streeton, 1985, WikiArt.

Part 1: Elder Woman at the Well

Drought months persisting, crops dying,
We laboured naked in fields, sun beating
Upon our backs, repeated turns at well,
Urns heavy, watering crops, cloudless
Skies, field beasts bones bleaching, wilted
Olive groves. Thus was rainless plight for
Cosimia and myself, her mother, Attic
Plains parched. Stranger, face-veiled elder
Woman at our well we encountered, heat
Enfeebled, cup-in-hand, she reached to us.
Between sips of water, stated, “My dreams,
Goddess awaits at sacred springs.”

“Ending this drought?” I asked, Cosimia at
My side. Eyes distant, dark hair dusty, gown
Tatters, far from home she had roamed,
Yet we feared her heat-affected mind was
Lost to arid heights. Upon our bed, we
Placed frail woman, bites of fruit, honeyed
Bread, Cosimia offering prayers, cool-water
Laves, sleep overtaken, her mind turned
Within. “Your name, Holy Mother?” Cosimia
Whispered at her ear. “By many names I am
Known, Arkia, Akardana, Arkadonia, oaken
Wood dryad, living to brittle old age.”

In feverish dreams Arkia muttered, clear
Springs, communion of tall-standing oak
Woods, mist-shrouded mountain forests.
Yet, by droughts, trees suffered leaf to
Root, sacred springs stagnant-shallow as
Arkia’s agéd heart was vine withered. Alas!
She sat upright, “Cloud goddess we must
Approach, stone altar secluded in sylvan
Secrecy.” Half-dead with misery, Arkia
Collapsed, tearing eyes fixed hard upon
Cosimia’s face, thoughts conveyed:
Three of us to holy springs must visit.

“Pine Forest,” Ivan Shishkin, 1885, WikiArt.

Could we abandon cottage and crops? All
Round us heat-dilapidated, aside death of
Weary goats and sheep, what else could we
Lose? O! Bloodless flower! By oxen cart,
We carried Arkia, water-soaked bed linens,
She revived, revealing puzzling paths no
Carted beast could travel, oxen released to
Mountain meadows. Lo! Three on foot took
To stately pines, meandering ranks growing,
Hillsides descending, protected domains,
Ancient temple laurels-overgrown, goddess
Iris, keeper of rain-providing clouds.

Beginning of shorter Cosimia poetic series about drought, Dryades
(Dryads), and goddess Iris. For more on Dryads, see this link:

Thanks for reading. 

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