Orphan maid, Ondria, rambled amongst
Wooded tangles, family war-killed, ragged
Child, existing by charity of farmers, fruit
And figs, fearful, her mind turned within,
Inconsolable, fated plight of pain, she
Wandered to temple steps of Demeter,
Bleeding flower, chanting grief entranced.
Alas! Ondria devoured offerings for the
Goddess: grains, olives, fly-buzzing finger-
Ling fish, heads and tails, she fathomed
Not divine, ritual nor ceremony, in chaste
Innocence she slept on sun-warmed marble
Steps, slumberous depths, death slipping,
Body limp, breathing, heartbeat waned.
O! Seed cast on fallow fields, Demeter had
Ondria’s life taken for violations profane,
Pale, cold flesh, lifeless at feet of holy
Priests, to goddess’ alter they lifted her,
Clothing dirty rags, bare feet, prayers for
Burial or resurrection, they cared not which,
Lashing flames, soul renting or redeeming.
Uncertainty shrouded how Ondria’s body
Drew new breath, for orphan maid was no
More, death-transformed child rose anew,
Some thought Persephone from underworld
Returned, torn garments to ankles dropped,
That long lost now found, deific daughter
Stepped forth in radiant sunlight.
Priests amazed, emerging woman was no
Flower-bearing girl, dozen tongues unleashed,
Creature neither mortal nor divine, but dæmon,
Wise-knowing Nephele, so self-professed on
Temple steps, phantom cloud-created, stealing
Offerings to Demeter, undaunted and serpent-
Entwined, she defied ritual and ceremony.
Poem of transformation, life after death, to read
more on cloud-created Nephele, see this link.