Nine Lonely Goddess Poems
I am currently working on my third book of poems. The overarching theme of this work involves an exploration of the feminine mystique and empowerment. It both celebrates the woman as extraordinary and illuminates all that is ordinary in her while always connecting back to the origin of all meaning in life which is derived through relationships with her offspring, her lover, and her Creator. The nine goddess poems take a mythological female (who may or may not already have goddess status) and elevate her while also making her more human. The goddesses are from all over the world and represent a variety of mythologies from Irish to Greek to Japanese to Eastern Indian to Egyptian to Norse to Korean to Chinese. They represent sections in the book (which I'm still developing) with a variety of themes including Exile/Wandering, Chasing/Fleeing, Death, Prosperity, Motherhood/Fertility, Love/Relationship, Equality/Justice, Faith/Healing, and Empowerment.
Fair-skinned girl in a peasant dress,
crowning hair aflame, your smile made you
as rich as you were poor.
It’s why you feel you deserve less—
they’ve always taken what’s yours.
Lebor Gabála Érenn,
The Book of the Taking of Ireland,
every invasion of privacy
as you dressed and undressed
behind closed doors.
The harvest you prepared,
the grass so green, your children
will never know.
Stripped of their shoes,
stripped of their home,
sent far away to desert lands
Their happy parents forced to roam,
embrace a sadness not their own.
Still, now and then, a sailor gazes
down a telescope at the world
so lush it gives him hope,
emerald promise of prosperity
one day he might yet know. --Mara Merce
Every girl wants to be Aphrodite,
her tall tan legs, skinny torso.
I’d rather be the goddess of war.
She’s the one all the boys fall for.
Seduced by the fight, they are
unencumbered by her flight.
She runs through the forest, near
the panting fawn. They chase her
until dawn, shooting arrows
like Cupid without the aim.
I couldn’t blame them if they missed me.
Hard to catch, even harder to forget.
They never reminisce about the ones
they have stuffed on their walls.
They only recall the one who gets away,
eludes their best bait, leaving them
breathless on their impossible quest.
Whose woods these are
they think they know,
but they will never find her.
She can become a bird
and a tree and a river
and a babbling brook.
The second you look,
she can become
anything. --Mara Merce
When she first died,
Izanagi full of woe
could not let
his lovely wife go.
He honored the pact they made
long ago, a journey to Yomi,
the shadowy land of the dead,
to rescue her captive soul.
Darkness so great, Izanagi ached
for the light of life
as he traveled the night valley
to find her.
When he found her, she was not
the same. Though called
by name, Izanami said
it was too late.
Dinner had been served to her
an hour before him.
She could not wait.
From the plate
of the underworld,
she was transformed
Queen of the Dead.
Izanagi stepped near to his late wife
and saw her face replaced with maggots.
Love’s expression changed to fear,
Izanagi ran from there.
Crying out for the living,
he searched endless night
for that horizon of light
near death’s boundary.
So Izanagi left his wife, Izanami,
in the land of Yomi
lost to the fate
He sealed the entrance
and his heart
in stone, swore
he’d rather be alone.
Izanami could not let Izanagi be,
she refused to set her husband free.
How did such love turn to such hate?
She said if he left her, she would destroy
a thousand people every day.
So Death was born, as the story goes,
by the wrath of a woman
spurned by her lover
who abandoned her
to rot in hell.
I have a story like this as well.
Only I was the god.
You were the goddess.
And we were both dead. --Mara Merce
I see God in her
when she laughs, like a child
delighting. I hear God’s voice
as she sings to me the spiritual
anthem in her native Indian.
What does your name mean?
The goddess of money.
Oh, that’s funny.
Yes. I know. (Laughing)
Brahmans are nature lovers,
she tells me.
The Hindus find spirit in everything.
A pebble has as much soul as a tree.
They honor the wind in morning
prayers, chanting whispers, gratitude
given to every human being.
Festival faith, she cooks all day for Ganesh,
later paints henna on her arms, intricate
tendrils curling like vines down her palm.
Keeps bad spirits away.
Resignation in her voice when she frets
her sons are growing up American.
With freedom, she wants them to know
the warm-blooded world, feel inside
themselves its collective breathing.
Beyond pizza and video games,
hamburgers and television sets,
she regrets they are sometimes lazy.
They are sometimes forgetting
to kneel. --Mara Merce
Hathor was everyone’s daughter,
wife and mother.
What didn’t she do for others?
Even the Egyptian royalty worshipped
her next to the commoners.
She was the first face you saw in birth
and the arms that embraced you after life.
Cow’s head etched into the pyramids and mines,
she sang and she danced into the sky.
Horus, the sun god, lived inside her warming
the stone hearth, furnace of desire
a wild fire burning with such intensity
even Venus would admire.
She birthed him wet with flame,
gave purpose to him again.
Ra wanted the same.
God only knows what Horus did
to keep Hathor’s affection
from the other one.
So men like children run
after the girl who reminds him
most of his mother. --Mara Merce
Ask was spoken into being like a question.
Embla was the formulation of the answer.
Three gods visited them, chiefly Odin,
enlightening with spiritual gifts.
One became the vine, the Other, a tree,
inseparable in Norse mythology.
So Ask and Embla came to be the first
pair of lovers in human history.
If he was the thing itself, made concrete,
she was the emblematic expression of him,
reflecting all he was yet to become.
If he was the harvest, the plentiful sower,
she was gardener, the grower of the seed,
busy to keep out ever sprouting weeds.
Some might say he took the lead, yet
any man who has been in love like that
could tell you he was aimless without her.
That was her power, made in his image,
he saw himself in her eyes mirrored
better than he could ever be alone. --Mara Merce
Lamprus wanted a boy.
Galatea had a girl.
So she gave her daughter
a boy’s name to be sure
its father would claim him.
All was well in the kingdom until
little Lucy came of age.
Her womanhood began showing,
blooming feminine wile.
Her mother fretted, praying
the gods would change her daughter
into a son, make him the man
his father’s heart desired.
She must have prayed fervently,
for Leucippus grew a penis.
The event was so momentus
in the town of Phaestus it became
a custom for women to lie
next to the statue of Leucippus
before their weddings.
These women didn’t have
the good fortune
of growing their own penises.
They were simply blessed to enjoy
the benefit of their husbands’
good fortunes. --Mara Merce
Her father was blind.
She made him believe.
Once he believed, she made him see.
I don’t know how the story goes.
The details are lost on me.
Some say she threw herself into the ocean.
Perhaps a merman saved her,
giving some of his magical scales for a potion.
Maybe she climbed Mt. Chy-Ack on a whim,
encountering a Sanshin, the god living at the peak.
She gave an impassioned speech, a plea
for her father’s condition.
The Sanshin was moved to listen,
summoning Kumiho, the nine-tailed fox,
who provided a recipe for tea
that would reverse the curse in him.
I wish I could tell you
which is true, but no one tells
these stories like they used to.
It’s just Korean mythology.
people would rather see before they believe.
Pay no mind to the fact if they cannot believe,
they will never be able to see. --Mara Merce
I make my men from mud, pour
the Yellow River into their veins.
Lonely as the moon, rippling
lagoon, lacquered black surface
reflecting the sorrow of a universe.
Stars fall through me, become
pebbles on the silt floor.
Take too long to make, some
drown in the tears I cry.
Carve first their eyes.
Tunnel from there the soul.
Hearts can wait to beat.
Pulse after breath.
My own I give to them. --Mara Merce
© 2013 maramerce