To celebrate the conclusion of our celebration of National Poetry Month every weekend, I offer one woman’s glorious response to a huge blogging meme of poetry. Please click on the link near the bottom, to find many of the other poems that have been written. Many thanks to my friend Bonnie Cehovet for directing me to this.
Eighty One Things About Oracles
Jo Walton (papersky) ©2009
Let me try to be clear.
The glimpses will always be broken.
It doesn’t help to know.
We can’t stop doing it.
It wasn’t only Delphi and the smoke
Or the Sibyl in her Cumaean cave
Oldest was the oak at Dodona
and Cassandra who would not give what the god asked
and was not believed.
You have to give what the god asks,
or nobody will believe you.
He always asks more than you expect.
You can choose what you use, up to a point.
Tripods, smoke, crystals, cards,
a DOS word-processor made in the Old Kingdom,
necklaces, rituals, a swan-feather quill.
You just need the patterns to get you started.
The madness is not optional.
We’re very democratic.
Being the Oracle is open to all women.
Of course men can do it too!
The Oracle is equal opportunity.
For “she” read “he” throughout
and vice versa.
We also welcome applications
from people of all ethnic backgrounds
and levels of physical ability.
You do have to be smart, though.
It’s like distributed processing;
we each know nine different things.
Nine seems like a lot when you’re starting out.
It doesn’t help with your personal life.
For one thing, you get distracted.
He kisses you and through his eyelashes
you glimpse the pattern:
“Who was that chick I saw you with next week?”
It only works when they trust what you’re doing.
Did we mention, no refunds?
I was looking in the tiles this one time
and I saw a space-station
and there was this Nubian girl,
pretty, confident, a pilot,
she was going to a planet where the gravity…
after that I lost her
and there was a dove, getting closer,
until in one feather
I saw a snowy plain and these huge quiet deer,
What can you make of that?
It was the year Alexander died.
The question was about Egyptian politics.
I told them the consequences reached further than they could imagine.
Wrap a web around it,
try to count backwards.
The light will catch in your throat
staccato words spatter
and the pendulum keeps
Time doesn’t happen all at once.
When you look from on top, you can see more of it.
When you squint sideways, you can see through it.
Paint me green for glimpses, opal for ambiguity.
Do you know how many people did this meme
who hadn’t written poetry for years?
Apollo has other interests, bless him.
Not even the gods know all ends.
Divine inspiration visits in his own good time.
There are always two cups on my table.