09 April 2011

Orphic Mission

Today's post is another from the P&W prompt series (again, thanks to Angelspeak):

Flip through the dictionary and randomly choose 10 words. Write a poem with each word in every other line.

Here are the words I collected (with definitions from Merriam-Webster):

perigeethe point on the moon's elliptical path closest to Earth (making it look large)
apogee - the point on the moon's elliptical path farthest from Earth (making it look small)
quintessence - the most typical example of a thing; the essence of a thing in its most pure/concentrated form;the fifth and highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy that permeates all nature and is the substance composing the celestial bodies
divest - to undress or strip
orphic - having to do with Orpheus (the poet/musician who almost rescues his wife Eurydice from Hades by charming Pluto and Persephone with his lyre)
lignin (or lignify) - the substance that makes wood cells hard ( to convert into wood/woody tissue)
tissular - relating to organismic tissue
embrew (another spelling of imbrue) - to stain (something)
wame - (chiefly Scottish) the belly; in a woman, the womb
forbear - to hold back or abstain, particularly with effort

I got some from links on the front page of the site and rest from browsing the dictionary by letter. It wasn't until I looked up quintessence a second time that I got the celestial/alchemical definition, but by that time I already had 8 words and a theme was starting to arise. Words like changeling started coming to mind, so I came up with a draft: (the link is really worth reading if you don't know too much about about changeling/fairy lore - some of the references will make more sense)

With sweat streaming, a woman on an orphic mission
made her way up ol’ fairye hill, her fair complexion ruddy
with the strain of climbing. So close was the perigee moon
and with it the hope of recovering her baby for this changeling,
the hope that the quintessential vulnerability of her child, her real child
kept it safe from the little people’s wicked ways.
This child, stock or fetch, lignifying in her arm, failed to thrive.
Its tissular structures became rigid as she neared the stones-
her last chance at saving her little girl. The tugging of fear at her wame
collapsed any confidence she had left, embrewing her thoughts
 divesting her of her power to have an effect. Passing the lump in her arms
through the Crick stones thrice, she waited her child with hope.
The moon forbore its ancient potent, as though the apogee had come
too soon.

Because that was just terrible and the interesting words I had picked were often too obscure to really convey well the meaning, I drafted again, dropping the words where necessary, but trying to retain their meaning as much as possible.  

Orphic Mission

Sweat streaming into her eyes, a young woman panted
up ol' fairye hill, her fair complexion ruddy with strain.
The full moon bloomed large over the crest of the hill
a terra cotta medallion, her only remaining hope.

Pulling at the swaddling blankets in her arms, she glanced
at the false infant, a stock or fetch, lignifying before her eyes
a failure to thrive that was apparent from the moment she saw
the out-turned coat on the floor, fallen from the cradle.

The struggle to breathe, a hint of blue at the tips of the fingers
Gasping and grasping, a suddenly fussy changeling lay
where once was nestled a tranquil child, touched by the heavens
The deceitful being she held became more and more rigid
as she neared the stones - her last chance at saving her little girl

A fear tugged in her belly, collapsing any confidence she held,
imbruing her thoughts and divesting her of maternal power
Passing the body in her arms through the crick stone thrice
She awaited the arrival of her child, hope waning

The moon withheld its ancient potency, as though the perigee
had come too late

Comments welcome.

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