Keep It Dark
Who are the goddesses who fell in love
with each other? Which ones were punished
or celebrated with star-dom—captives
flung into the sky to cast nets of light
across the inner surface of our nightdome?
Go ask Alice B, ask bell or Djuna,
Frances & Florence. Or just listen
to those goddesses on the windowsill,
boasting about their skill with potions,
flaunting their transformations & fierce lineages,
family troubles as vengeful as Medea’s.
Here’s the nymph Callisto, who welcomed
Diana’s embraces without knowing
it was really Zeus taking the goddess’s form
to enter her, break her vow. How to
punish her for the pregnancy?
Turn her into Ursa Major.
But is it forcing things to say
she preferred Diana to Zeus?
We’re always searching in galleries
& history & literature for women
like ourselves. Keep it dark, wrote
the anonymous photographer
to the grinning women in suits & ties
whom she titled the “The Queer Quartette.”
1930s, two couples at dinner in a resort,
the Laurentians, say, or the Adirondacks.
Even on a moonless night, Callisto
knows their names.
Published online July 15 2015.
Note: U.S. poet Joanne Kyger to interviewer Paul Watsky: “Robert Duncan and the San Francisco poets used Greek mythology a lot. They talked about the gods and goddesses as if they were sitting there on the windowsill all the time...” (Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche 7:3, Summer 2013).
Maureen Hynes is a past winner of the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Prize for her first book of poetry, Rough Skin. Her third poetry book, Marrow, Willow, was released by Pedlar Press in 2011, and another is forthcoming from Pedlar in 2015. Her work has appeared in over 20 anthologies and numerous journals. Maureen is the poetry editor for Our Times magazine.