Musings: original poetry by Tess Avelland
feet were bare in glittering dew
the night wind shone along my naked skin,
in the dark delirium of my hair.
wet grass was woven with endless stars,
meadow alight like a second sky.
knelt in the white silence of the great moon;
a mystery spoke in my shimmering body,
filled the waiting dark behind my eyes.
awoke, weeping and speechless,
of secrets too vast to remember.
about 1987, age 16 or 17)
am the growing green earth and the dark soil beneath;
am moon and stars, I am hearth flames and the blood of life.
fields of golden grain burgeon forth my abundance,
silver fingers are streams and sparkling rivers,
I bloom fully in both flowers and fruits.
am the great yellow sun and the black thunderstorm;
am wind and cloud, I am dark forests and purple wine.
fangs of wild beasts flash forth my strength,
white bones are antlers and winter branches,
I burn fiercely in both fires and frosts.
Message to Persephone"
I know, daughter of field and sky, how in that ravaged darkness
ruby heart of the broken fruit must have gleamingly beckoned you,
with a ripe and crimson life, so vivid in the rayless gloom --
the seeds must have tasted to your trembling lips and fingers.
lonely through dim-shadowed days, then thrilled with terror
each night strode forward to embrace you, black and eager as the
did you whisper behind your falling hair, as you gave yourself
the secret scarlet darkness and the knowledge of the god?
mourn the hunger or the yielding,
yours now is the Knowledge of the whole and holy truth:
flower, fruit, rot, and seed again, forever.
at Eleusis our escape from a changeless Eden.
us, sister, there would be no Fall, no spring.
brave I was, when first the chasm opened at my feet!
I could face even the inner mysteries of that fearsome rite,
I gave myself to the descent, so well prepared
when I felt the hard unyielding skull beneath his kiss of greeting
was without a trace of horror or surprise. Such a thing was merely
of the journey; it was to be expected; I myself had chosen it.
all at once -- oh unsought, too beautiful, hurtful and unwelcome --
found that his hair held the scent of every vanished summer;
before I knew it, I had leaned toward him closer than I meant.
was too late to turn away then; his arms were around me.
stood aghast, trembling in a snare of sudden hopelessness,
as the earth closed over us and sealed us together for a season
whispered with my lips against his shoulder, I
still and solid on the fallen tree, his feet in worn brown leather moccasins
against the earth as firm as roots in soil, feet as much a part of forest
and leather-brown leaves as of his body, he is of the earth. He is drumming,
one hand flashing, drawing forth rhythm from the drum, the other
the drum and still, like a live branch the wrist immobile-flexuous,
branch curving forth from branch, balanced, arm curving forth in
strength from the
of his body, his body still and solid on the mossy fallen tree. His
long dark tail of hair leather thong bound loose behind his head,
face lifted rapt
late leaf-filtered sun, light sparkling on his mouth, lips closed
firmly, the muscles
his mouth's corners moving unaware, rhythm of his drumming working
lovemaking. Slow unclosing his drowsy eyes, full of light,
shadowy lashes, limpid as clear brown water, woodland rainwater
last year's softened leaves, his open eyes serene unseeing; now
again slow closing
slow and downward sweep of lashes, slower than the drumming rhythm rocking
head, long lashes down on brown skin. Lips closed, mouth gentle
body still on the fallen tree, feet planted, he is of the earth, he
Off the Coast of Sappho's Island"
is where she comes, our sea-mistress,
weary of their company. Our unhurried hands
down her hair, unbraid it, comb it smooth
the spines of seahorses, till it spreads glorious
the sunwarmed spray-scented rock, rippling like the touch
sun on water, and she sighs, and says she is home.
sing away her robes and the heavy jeweled belt,
wreathe her gently with wet loose-woven seaweed,
with sea-diamonds, cool against her blooming skin.
below in silence the skulls of men watch gape-jawed
we pour herbed oil over gold bread warm as sand,
her with rosy fruits and fruit-stained fingers,
her breasts in wine, suck the salt tang from her mouth.
time before she goes, we braid her hair with cowrie shells,
thousand tiny smiles hidden in the clefted darkness.
the God of One Garden"
never banished me, you blustering tyrant;
escaped, and you hid your shame with lies. I'd only strayed
your realm at all because I'd taken a fancy to your son.
sampled your fruit and found it insipid; but not so
earth-rich boy, more delicious for his conquerable
so he and I fled together laughing, unthinking,
ever since he's led me both a merry dance and a sad.
sometimes I think his son's sons are learning,
known the dry drouth of me, and remembering
wild soft scent of blossom from their earliest childhood.
you yourself, whose name I'm not supposed to know:
still haunt that orderly orchard for me, the glossy fruit
ponderously for a plucking that never comes, monstrous
the scope of your misunderstanding, your false fertilization,
after-all-this hope amounting to hubris.
now, poor fool, you expect me to return to you,
head covered modestly, mouth sealed, full of repentant seeds.
matter what you think you want from me, you never like to remember
before you ever were,
I was Queen of the isle of all apples.
the hidden center of my life, I glimpsed a god with shadowed face,
But my young girl's silly heart called him monstrous, distorted him
fear and turned away; and so I sought the slayer of all that was likewise
in me. Tangled in my own thread, I lost my way; I only followed.
the circling islands I knew at last the mainland life was not my destiny,
unsure and on the ship already, I sailed a little way with the
little way. Then I sank from a sleeping life into a waking sleep on
the shore --
to princes and heroes, farewell my dimly-promised queenship.
my own thread again, in true dreams I walk that myriad old maze,
the wine-dark waves and wooded slopes, through green sunny groves
meadows night-lit with moon and flame; searching among the roots of vineyards,
with the barefoot village revellers, red-lipped with the blood of
true dreams I have drunk your essence, my fire-born mad young beauty;
is and what will be between us is fixed upon the jeweled northern sky.
I take for a queenly sceptre this rough wand pinecone-tipped,
a queen's bed these soft skins flung on pine boughs. For you, for you
will give away my golden crown, and weave one of starlight and ivy.
to me with wine on your wonderful mouth, and kiss me awake.