03 April 2009

The Fates


I. Clotho

Like Sleeping Beauty wide awake
she sets her spindle spinning round.
A fist of spider's wool she takes
to turn the thread by which we're bound.
Her fingers dab her lower lip
to wet the thread, to make it cling.
It comes together in her grip
and while she spins she sings, she sings,
and while she spins she sings.

She sings of Life, of blood, of mind,
of running past the wind.
Sings of the joy with which we find
our mothers, brothers, lover, friends.
Sings of the grief and loss and pain
that come as sure as every spring;
the seasons bring both sun and rain,
and while she spins she sings, she sings,
and while she spins she sings.

The miles of thread she daily spins
twist out behind her, coil on coil;
her sisters' lot the bitter end,
but she knows only Life's sweet toil.
She spins eternal warmth and breath,
foreer round the mortal ring;
her sisters' lot to bring us death,
but while she spins she sings, she sings,
but while she spins she sings.


II. Lachesis

She is the most methodical of girls.
She has no tools but her own body, so
she takes care not to change. As dawn unfurls,
arms wide, knees flexed, she wakes spreading her toes.
She does not sing her older sister's song;
while she's reaching, she works silently;
she twists to measure thread one whole life long.
She contorts gracefully, a Greek yogini.
Life comes to her in tangles she unwinds;
for every one of us she measures twice,
marks delicately with a knot, a sign
to youngest sister where her shears should slice.
You think you life is years; but she says Nay--
one nose, one left hand, two aureolae.


III. Atropos

She cuts
the thread. She marks
our death. The thread
unravels. We gasp
for breath, find only
void. It fills
our lungs. It clots
our veins. The blood
moves slowly, pauses,
faints. Our pulse
beats once, a closing
door, and then it beats
no more.

Her shears
are sharp. Her stroke
is sure. No stitch
nor poultice can
this cure. We bleed
from cut, in throat.
in gut, from burst
in brain, from heart's
glut, from germ
in blood, from rot
in wound, from choking,
falling, sun at
noon, too much, too
little, too fast, too
soon, from anger, love,
indulgence, chance--she
slices swift, cuts
short the dance.

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