“labyrinthia,” “laestrygonia,” and “ogygia”

In Poetry by Michele Evans

“labyrinthia,” “laestrygonia,” and “ogygia”
Photo by Suzi Kim on Unsplash

labyrinthia

[lab-rin-thee-ah] n.

a derivative of labyrinth, a complex system

of paths or tunnels in which it is easy to get lost

or a complicated situation

when i was a child,

momma told me:

sticks and stones

may break my bones

but words

will never hurt me.

so i chose

a big grey stone

from a little tin bucket

not to throw

or break someone’s bones

but to write on it —

like it was paper

one word

in permanent

black marker:

perspective.

and then

i chose

a simple, white card

pinned to

a rustic frame

propped up

on an easel made of sticks.

and

i walked

under a canopy

of crepe myrtle trees

–bright clusters

of fragrant fuchsia blossoms

and shiny dark leaves.

and

i walked

in circles

made of sticks and stones

going nowhere

and everywhere

at the same time

clutching

my big grey stone

and simple white card

that read:

keep your head

up

and your heart

open.

it was those words

not sticks and stones

that hurt me.

this time

momma was wrong.

Image

laestrygonia

[ly-stra-go-nee-ah] n. pr.

a tribe of man-eating giants from ancient greek mythology

i couldn’t throw daggers

with my eyes anymore,

so i chiseled bits

of mother earth,

chunks of grey rock,

to hurl at him.

and when the dust

from launched cannons

injected grey smoke

into my lungs cove,

i coughed up

every contact trace

memory of him.

but when the rubble

refused to leave,

my grey heart dimmed.

i, buried underneath

a quarry of pain,

never learned to live

without him.

ogygia

[oh-gig-ea-ah] n. pr.

an island mentioned in homer's odyssey,

home of the nymph calypso

god sent a rainbow,

a clear message wrapped in glass:

“be still and let him go.”

immediately, i wanted to write back:

“please, no!”

because i had saved him –

not his patient wife,

not his desirable mistress,

not even his baby mama,

i, an all of the above wannabe,

had saved him –

so i wrote a different note,

pushed it out into a dead sea

like the raft he used to escape me,

and i tried instead to just    be

still. inside the glass, the scroll reply:

“dear immortality: just. let. me. die.”

when nobody wrote back,

i collapsed where sand and sea lie,

waiting to exhale violet blue notes

from melancholy’s elegy,

waiting to unravel threads of juniper

from despair’s shroud,

waiting to stoke peppery flakes

from grief’s pyre,

until one day, a circle of friends –

guilt, shame, and pride – emerged from the cave inside

to circle and pray over my lifeless body

like phases of the moon struck

to speak easy angelic melodies

finally lifting the weight of the world

from my shoulders. so full of grace bottled in afterglow,

i, finally floating, let him go.

About the Author

Michele Evans

Michele Evans, a native Washingtonian and graduate of Smith College, is a writer and high school English teacher. When not rambling on about the elements of literature to 15 year-olds and grading stacks of their essays, she treasures spending time with her family and walking nature trails around her neighborhood. Despite always wearing the color black, she exhibits a certain fondness for blueberries, blue hydrangeas, blues singers, and Blue Mountain coffee.