"Study for Birds," Albert Joseph Moore, 1878, WikiArt photo.
“Study for Birds,” Albert Joseph Moore, 1878, WikiArt photo.

Part 2: My Bird-Footed Child

Adolescent daughter, Cipriana heeded Dodona’s
Clarion call, up-bounding steps into thunder-
Blast of fomenting clouds, earth trembling all
Around, waves uplifting, seacoasts swallowed
Whole. What dark force unleashed, saving
Wheat fields, field-turning oxen yoke? As
Child-god, Cipriana, stepped forth, eyes and
Hair ablaze, soul consumed by ancient scorn.
O! My bird-footed child!

Cipriana declared hateful name, “Dodona,
Dark Dove,” shadowed wings, beckoned forth
By my pleading prayers “to any gods, old or new.”
Returning spirit of forsaken lands, goddess and
Mortal encrowned, sacred lady abducted from
Ruling realms, stentorian words ushered forth
From daughter’s forehead, “Obey my words or
Perish. In doing so, all things will be awarded,
Decrees wrested from prayer-opened tomb.”

Feathered face, human beak, Cipriana, darkness
Transformed unwitting child into egg-laying
Blesséd curse, dove or crow, destiny within
Mercurial metallic shells, wonders of silver and
Gold or lead’s dead weight, poisoned death
Plaguing sea and land, sun dimmed, pale moon
Ashen grey. Cipriana chanted from temple heights,
All are slaves to fortunes fair or morbid plights,
Farms rendered oasis or smoking fiery pit.

"Sirin and Alkonost, Birds of Joy and Sorrow, Viktor Vasnetsov, 1896, WikiArt photo.
“Sirin and Alkonost, Birds of Joy and Sorrow, Viktor Vasnetsov, 1896, WikiArt photo.

To god-morphéd daughter we prayed, any words
Promised to save ourselves, sky-darting, darkling
Child. Souls forsaken, fields upwelled with grains
And fruit, field beast multiplied, olive groves
Flourished, orchards long and wide. My frenzied
Breast, what cost obedience? For blessings given,
Subservient to Dodona’s demands, as other farms
Fell to ruin and rot, our crops grew under god-
Favoring sun, we feasted meat and wine.

Edited and tweeted from rocky shores of Maine.
Yes, I am sabbatical as indicated in Poem No. 700.

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