Tuesday 31 May 2022

Four Poems by Shelly Jones

Ode to Brigid

Women of light,
tend to the fire,
the ever-rising flames
of Brigid, blacksmith and poet,
who heals us,
warms our weary bones
with hopes of spring
as she keens in the night,
the melting snow.

Goddess of Waiting  

A child of death, taken by Hades,
forever casts her face upward,
listening for the familiar footfall
of her mother, skirts rustling
like wheat sheaves threshed
to the dying earth. Her voice clawing
at the barren rocks above, she waits,
watching a bit of green curling
from her navel, til the seedling
grows, thickens into a heavy vine
that she will climb, escaping
her oubliette once more.

St. Leonard and the Dragon, or Botanical Mythos from a Grove in Medieval Sussex  

When St. Leonard falls asleep,
muscles ragged, skin blistering,
swan-white lily blossoms craning
from pools of his tinny blood
scattered along the forest floor,
does he dream of the dragon’s
grizzled head lulling in a field of nettle,
claws shackled in ancient, thorny vines,
or is his slumber disturbed
by the shrill grind of gears
lumbering through the quiet
hermitage of his protected land?


How often must Argus,
that hundred-eyed giant,
have succumbed to the eerie,
unsettling feeling of falling,
his many eyes, crusty slits
yearning for sleep, body limp
before jolting, stiff, bracing
for a landing that never comes,
unlike his brethren, Hephaestus,
heaved from the heavens so cruelly?  

What was the last image
those listless lids saw:
the milky white hide of Io,
bovine beauty in disguise,
his cursed companion,
a friendship forged in treachery,
or the jagged rock above his head,
the horrified face of Hermes
mumbling a hushed apology
before delivering Zeus’s unholy message? 

Shelly Jones (she/they) is a Professor of English at a small college in upstate New York, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in PodcastleNew MythsThe Future Fire, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @shellyjansen.

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