(Elsa Gidlow)

For the Goddess Too Well Known

I have robbed the garrulous streets,
Thieved a fair girl from their blight,
I have stolen her for a sacrifice
That I shall make to this night.
I have brought her, laughing,
To my quietly dreaming garden.
For what will be done there
I ask no man pardon.
I brush the rouge from her cheeks,
Clean the black kohl from the rims
Of her eyes; loose her hair;
Uncover the glimmering, shy limbs.
I break wild roses, scatter them over her.
The thorns between us sting like love's pain.
Her flesh, bitter and salt to my tongue,
I taste with endless kisses and taste again.
At dawn I leave her
Asleep in my wakening garden.
(For what was done there
I ask no man pardon.)




How the Dream was born...

Love's Acolyte
Many have loved you with lips and fingers
And lain with you till the moon went out;
Many have brought you lover's gifts!
And some have left their dreams on your doorstep.

But I who am youth among your lovers
Come like an acolyte to worship,
My thirsting blood restrained by reverence,
My heart a wordless prayer.

The candles of desire are lighted,
I bow my head, afraid before you
A mendicant who craves your bounty
Ashamed of what small gifts she brings.




Chains Of Fires

Each dawn, kneeling before my hearth,
Placing stick, crossing stick
On dry eucalyptus bark
Now the larger boughs, the log
(With thanks to the tree for its life)
Touching the match, waiting for creeping flame.
I know myself linked by chains of fire
To every woman who has kept a hearth

In the resinous smoke
I smell hut and castle and cave,
Mansion and hovel.
See in the shifting flame my mother
And grandmothers out over the world
Time through, back to the Paleolithic
In rock shelters where flint struck first sparks
(Sparks aeons later alive on my hearth)
I see mothers , grandmothers back to beginnings,
Huddled beside holes in the earth
of igloo, tipi, cabin,
Guarding the magic no other being has learned,
Awed, reverent, before the sacred fire
Sharing live coals with the tribe.

For no one owns or can own fire,
it ]ends itself.
Every hearth-keeper has known this.
Hearth-less, lighting one candle in the dark
We know it today.
Fire lends itself,
Serving our life
Serving fire.

At Winter solstice, kindling new fire
With sparks of the old
From black coals of the old,
Seeing them glow again,
Shuddering with the mystery,
We know the terror of rebirth.



Constancy

You're jealous if I kiss this girl and that,
You think I should be constant to one mouth?
Little you know of my too quenchless drouth:
My sister, I keep faith with love, not lovers.

Life laid a flaming finger on my heart,
Gave me an electric golden thread,
Pointed to a pile of beads and said:
Link me one more glorious than the rest.

Love's the thread, my sister, you a bead,
An ivory one, you are so delicate.
Those first burned ash-grey--far too passionate.
Further on the colors mount and sing.

When the last bead's painted with the last design
And slipped upon the thread, I'll tie it: so;
Then smiling quietly I'll turn and go
While vain Life boasts her latest ornament.

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