Part 2: Atalanta Became Kandanké
Desire to peer within ancient sarcophagus,
Kandaké took to feet, head veiled, eyes in
Reverence cast down. At open crypt, brittle
Bones and papyri scrolls she found, wisdom
Of ages presumed. Kandaké touched desert-
Dried skull, hollow eyes, aged-worn teeth.
Mind-filling voice stated, “Taste.” Finger to
Tongue, exfoliated powdery bone, honey
Sweet, soul of oracle crept within Kandaké.
Freed from death, ancient oracle, Atalanta
Inched from Kandaké’s tongue to brain,
Tendrils entwining round neck, poisons
Oracle injected. For moments Kandanké
Felt rosy-warmth elation, gentle breezes
On sandy Ægean shores. Next, numbness
Overtook arms and legs to brain and heart,
Last breath Kandanké took, before falling
Unconscious to temple floors.
Age of Brass returned, without fear of higher
Gods, Atalanta rose from lingering shades of
Night. Two souls in turmoil thrust, by toxic
Venomed bite, innocence collapsed, Atalanta
Became Kandanké. O! Thunder-quaking skies,
Lesser deity was once repelled by thousand
Arrows loosed. Chariot borne away, Kandanké’s
Fate too grievous to relate, soul transformed
To stone obelisk, wedged on foreign shores.
Marooned upon hostile seas, Kandanké was
Neither living nor dead, endless strand she
Trudged, same clouded view either way. If
Stepping into sea, spiny-finned fish awaited,
Flashing pointed teeth. On land, she became
Entangled in bramble-twisted burning sands.
Confined to endless stretches of surf-wet
Beach, Kandathé was imprisoned where she
Stood, horizon’s tormenting edge.
Poem of metamorphosis and imprisonment, Kandathé
will confront further challenges upon ocean edge in Part 3.