Diana of the Morning

The olive trees are shadows in dawn’s light
as the gentle breeze of morning wakes, exhales
a cleanness born of lingering in the night
over green-enveloped mountain tops and vales.
A goddess, on her waking, may have walked a grove like this,
moving with the drifts of fog past leaves and silken webs
that, turning, blazed with watery diamonds in the sun.
Had Diana, goddess of the hunt, arrived with knife and bow?
Were those her eyes that searched the bare-spiked tops of trees;
was that her voice that called the wheeling falcon to her wrist?
Once, did the Huntress, muscular, keen-eyed and quick of hand,
pass a season bound, as we, to joy and pain, to life, itself?
She may have stepped close to the rabbits, silent in the brush,
their moist eyes wide and watchful, tiny forelegs trembling.
She could have killed them quickly.
Rabbits would recognize the Huntress,
fearless in the fearsome presence of her kindred wolves, coyotes,
mountain lions, bobcats, all stalking openly the prey that hid,
soundless in the thickest foliage, or posed in taunting boldness
on the highest limbs, pressed against the brightness of the sky.
Kites, hawks, and even eagles must have reveled in that blue;
would Diana note their aerobatics? Would she wonder why
we bipeds had no wings at all to catch the air and lift us,
to fan out rigidly to ride so lightly on the passing thermals—
no wings to beat the air and hover as we spied on life below?
Did Diana tread the dusty pathways, following faint tracks,
and glimpse a browsing deer? When she drew the bowstring,
did she recognize this stag? Did the arrow leave the bow,
or did her cry recant her ancient curse and let her know again
his human form and look into his eyes, caress his supple body?
It may be true they lay together in the leafy shadows of a tree.
But when she found his silence tiresome and her passion spent,
did she lament their parting or just the loosening of her power
—or had the Huntress found a new, unsettling loneliness?
Was that when she fled the grove amid the raucous laughter
of the wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, birds of prey?
Still, on occasion now, a falcon’s cry
or the warm scent of the grove she left behind
must rise among those memories she’d deny
and strike a chord within Diana’s mind.
©Marian Dickinson, 2003
P. O. Box 304
Jamul, CA 91935-0304

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