Poetry: Mischa Willett | Cassandra Voices

Poetry: Mischa Willett


Medea’s Hymn
from Ovid

O guardian of the dark, keeper of creeping
shadows, o night I’m standing in…
And you, timid stars, who wait for her arrival
to shine…

And you, Hecate, Hecate, Hecate,

who knows and keeps the herbal secrets,
the potion’s potency, the rites of sorcery…
And you, Earth, who grows the elements,
you world of winds and waters, you gods
of woods and watchers of the dead, I need
you all.

It is through your power that I have reversed
the river’s current as the mute banks gaped.
Haven’t we stilled the trashing seas,
convened councils of clouds, bagged and shook
out the very winds? With words I’ve split
a writhing serpent, drawn down boulders,
plucked an oak as easily as a flower. I can
shake the very mountains and open
the mouth of the ground in a groan. The shades
I can make walk from their tombs. Even you,
noon, I can drop in this stream like a white pebble.
The sun, my grandfather’s carriage,
I can sing pale. I can staunch the wound
even of pink dawn.

But it is you, who, helping me,
tarnished the bronze of the bulls and bent
their necks to plow. And you who tangled
the serpent’s scions and saved my Jason
in the ring. And it is you who, singing
through him, put that watchful and wise
beast to his first sleep, and so brought
the golden fleece—power of powers—
to Greece.


In a Dark Wood

Why am I so jealous of the duck
That has been swallowed by the wolf?
Because he has slippers
and a peg on which to hang his coat
and a rug on which to place the slippers?

In the same way, I wish I was the bunny,
always, but especially in Spring,
because I think of his hook,
and the tree he’s in
and the snow outside
and all the hawks he doesn’t
hear hunting, until he does.


The Holding Pattern
“Just then a plane jumped up and ripped the sky to shreds”
-K. Vonnegut

The F-12 fighter jet jumps
through a hole in the wall
at the café, at the museum, at the lunch
I am enjoying, at the moment
I am thinking of saying the bit about
my animal’s charging hard
and my man’s restraining grip—
the whip he uses to keep
the beast at bay—
how his forearms tire, how
his fingers ply at the leash.

The line was its own pastiche
of images—the broken clause, dramatic
pauses meant to make the thing sound
ex temporae—like I hadn’t come
up with it the day before, like I
hadn’t been dying to say it for its sharp
“ar” sound from “hard” and how that slammed
into “charged” and made the thing
sound sexed and desperate, as indeed,
I meant it.

This before the razor-winged marten
whose dive-bomb corkscrew threw an element
of reverie into an afternoon I’d mapped
out as heartful, profound, became
in the turn, her bright laughing’s
little explosions on the ground.

Feature Image: J. M. W. Turner’s Vision of Medea (1828).


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