Too much Jung in too little time


Cold marble beneath bare feet,
The yew carved bow is fit to my hand,
And the moon, myself, bares its crescent
At my forehead. At my heels run my dogs,
Though you mortals would not so call them.
Reynard the red trails her brush at calf level,
My trickster vixen. Nix, her large sister,
Bares her teeth at my thigh, dark pelt of the timber wolf
Shedding on the floor. All of us are out
Of our element; the only prey here was hewn from the stone.

There in the corner, behind a mock Doric column,
A roman copy of Greek original; the man
Who would have been my lover, the luckless one,
Meaning the fated, who saw me naked at my bathing,
Bound in the skin of a hind. He is, at this moment,
Perpetually devoured by his own hounds,
Whose noses I dazzled, disguising his scent.

It is not a good copy, the perspective is off,
And the man who carved it failed to sheath
The marks of his chisel. He did not bother
To pigment the stone. I remember that boy,
The intruder, he was young, with lovely deep eyes.
Had he not worshiped Priapus beneath his jerkin
He would have lived.

Reynard noses at a hole in the Baseboard,
Elegantly carved, scenting the fear stench
Of tired mouse. She digs with her black forepaws
Scratching the paint. Nix struggles to maintain the dignity
Befitting a guardian of dreams while scrabbling on tile.
It is well the next room is floored over with wood.

I am more myself here, touching a surface
That lived, once, even as long ago as this pine
That has been so abused. I am scenting
Something, deep, earthy, the rich tang of blood
Like the birth of a new blade on altar of stone.
I grip my bow, my quivering arrows, Reynard
Wears my knife on a thong round her neck,
Nix wears my sword, which cuts from both ends.

Old gods hang from all the corners, forgotten
And disrobed. Ishtar mounted frieze bound,
Halted at her dancing, a weaving of Ixtab
Covers a window. Her square headed body,
Curled fetal, breasts leaking, hangs by the noose
Of her own weaving, undying, the skill of her rope.
The shadows are everywhere, lovely, forgotten,
My eyeshift catches the body of a milk faced woman,
Shielding a child. Her toenails are claws beneath a blue robe.
But that scent draws me on, tantalizing, ever further
Through this long room, dark as a cave.

In the end I find her, wedged in her niche,
The earliest pattern of our hunting set,
The Neolithic goddess whose body is a cave.
She was the first mortal intimation, immortality
Roughly carved. The head is round, unfeatured,
It looks as though it were wound round
With flax rope. The breasts are large, deeply swollen,
Though these dugs never let spill a drop.
Though the slit belly of the infant spills blood at her feet.
This is a goddess of eating, a glance at her belly
Is enough to know that she is the consummation,
Not the giver of gifts. Her hands are hints,
Rudimentary fingers. She must be fed.
And she has been. I can see the source at last.

She-wolf and vixen cower at heel, pressing
Dank bodies against my white feet, the red and the black.
Reynard lets spill a little hot urine, the final
Expulsion of one newly dead, inadequate
For a creature still breathing.
This goddess is darkness,
And I am the light.

I look at the blood that pools round her hooves,
My nostrils flaring with hunger which she would know, though
Our appetites are similar, we are far from the same.
She was the first, I am not last,
I feel the temptation of all things half-living
For the food of the dead.

Destroy her or join her, these are my options,
Or so she dares tell me from her nest of rope.
I can sense a smile, hidden, invisible, sharp toothed,
She watches my hands. I draw an arrow, raise my bow,
With trembling arms, draw tight the strand.
Knowing I could slay her, knowing her weakness,
I let the untried arrow drop.

I too am a god of ages, a later step made
On the truth leading path. It does not do
To erase our antecedents. They are our roots.
We are the boughs which lead to our crown.
In the end there will be blossoms.
Spring come at last, when Persephone rises,
Fruiting for winter. It is the time for new gods,
Or redressing the old ones.
Unwedging them, or leaving them, niche bound
To walk this latest earth, whatever fields
And forest man leaves remain in this brutal, this reasoning age.

I can take my food from other sources,
Blood is not the only stream.
My wolf and my vixen rise when I call them,
Coming to heel, their faces in grins. I shall feed
Them fRom the forest, hare and hind at my command,
I give my back to the goddess, the unnamed kernel
I eat from my root. Let her have her place
In darkness. Let me have mine.
Oh mortals, do well and remember, gods rise
And decline. We never relent. Hold this
To your heart; you shall need us again,
We are your root and the source of your fruiting.
Without us there is only death.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on December 8, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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