by Liz Bourke

When she curses her mother
it is Cybele's name on her lips;
but you cannot write
a goddess's name on a lead tablet,
transfix it with iron nails
and hope to bind her: gods
are bigger than curses,
bigger than names.
She does not remember her own.

The gods have made her blind.
Her tears are acid. Sometimes
she remembers to dry her eyes,
and her hands burn.

When you ask her a question,
she does not hear you.
Sometimes it is the god's voice
she hears, like thunder, or a storm.
Sometimes, she hears nothing.

She speaks nonsense.
It would make sense if you could
hear the syntax of silences,
the grammar of mountains, or
if you were yourself an oracle.
The priests say they can translate.
When they try, she laughs.
Her laughter is knowing, and terrible.

Her mouth is a wound, cut
by the knife of her tongue.
She bleeds prophecies.
Sometimes, they are true.
Sometimes, you even understand. 

By day, Liz Bourke studies ancient history at Trinity College, Dublin. By night, she writes poems and falls off walls. Although not concurrently, at least thus far. When asked of what poem the word "cherry" immediately makes her think, she replied, "The word cherry doesn't make me think of any poem in particular. But it makes me think of fruit, which makes me think of apples, which leads, inexorably, to Edna St. Vincent Millay's 'If Still Your Orchards Bear': 'A man no longer what he was, / Nor yet the thing he'd planned, / The chilly apple from the grass / Warmed by your living hand.'"

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