‘I thought you were one of my kind,’ he said,
then, crestfallen, ‘I thought you’d be thrilled.’
To be fair, it was late, and I was a strange one
for squatting out among rushes waiting
to hear and feel the new tide slapping in
with cool subtle shadings of wind.
It was such a hot night … My white skin
must have flashed under the moon;
he must have seen the wings that, against
all opinion to the contrary, I know lie just
beneath my shoulder blades and, at moments
approaching happiness, edge and widen into air —
I had no need of those wings thrashing above me.
Now a voice from the swan enjoins me to turn
into a myth this sordid disturbance of a dream.
‘Total belief is all I ask,’ he says,
‘or, failing that, the skill to act its presence.’
Gods always ask for your everything, twice.
If I nestle deep down inside the mud, a new self
may hatch and arise, as if from fire …
Or will it be some old self, unreconciled
to these nights of yearning, disquiet:
waiting for an answer that will not raise up
the ghost of some more painful question?
Diane Fahey (1945 –
The above is a poem in response to Greek mythology and the story of ‘Leda and the swan’ where Leda is raped by Zeus who takes the form of a swan.
Unusual to contemplate a non-perfect God … if this is the case some amendment may be necessary in our thinking! … and her words pose a few thoughts …
… did the ‘rapist’ really think that Leda would be thrilled … was there no understanding
… how were the demands for acceptance (or pretence at acceptance) met by Leda …
… will Leda be changed forever (a new self … something hatched … born from fire) …
… and what was the ‘gain’ from the rape … the raising of the ghost … the ambivalence
… did she still have something of herself untouched … a sort of resilience despite the rape
Diane Fahey is an Australian poet. Her main creative concerns are nature writing, Greek myths, visual art, fairy tales and literary mystery novels.