Self Portrait at 60
Self Portrait at 60

Moving down rifted valleys
to the accepting sea,
an aroused soil rallies
the flowers of fertility.

The grey-eyed goddess
walked barefoot through
meadows of golden crocus
tinged with hyacinth blue.

To water her natural tapestry
she commanded rain from clear skies
and sang songs from her ancestry
to encourage the embryos to rise.

Warmed by a solar breeze
Spring’s sweet breath had seeped
into the Peloponnese,
where open flowers were reaped.

A spray of gathered narcissus
had been dropped and crushed underfoot.
The perfume blended with wishes
of maidens who sought womanhood.

They sang of becoming a woman
and dreamt of a suitable man,
as they wove garlands of blossoms
for a festival with their clan.

The goddess smiled at the cycles
as she acknowledged the notion
and thought that life was so fickle
and applauded procreation.

Nature’s dictator will drive
to find a partner and breed;
some will be guided by love
and others guided by need.

The goddess can only deny
any claim to know what is best.
Accept that life is a journey
and the challenge is always the quest.

Back in the beauty of Laconia
Lacedaemon was her place.
On the bank of the Eurotas river,
a bath was Helen’s space.

Braided boughs twined with flowers
at Helen’s outdoor shrine at Therapne.
Where young girls sang and danced for hours
and performed in the sanctuary.

Weaving wreaths of happiness
it’s the time of Helenaia.
Summer is full of such promise
at her home in Laconia.

Platanistas—the plane tree grove,
an unbroken ring of tall trees,
where women sang of their love,
in fertility ceremonies.

Last year’s brown globes burst jets
as the wind rattled the plane trees.
Fluffy seeds from miniature planets,
the swishing of chattering leaves.

She smiled as they danced the labyrinth lure
and sighed at the patterns they trod.
This transition from girl to woman mature
has been sanctioned by the gods.

Behind a trunk of jigsaw colours
Helen watched the women sing
archaic songs of their ancestors—
libations of oil pouring.

The rhythm and pulse of the dancing
the beat of the heart—and blood flow.
Vibrations of voices all chanting,
reminiscent of some time ago.

She remembered her own ceremony—
from innocence to sensual;
and the loss of her autonomy
after the end of the ritual.

She heard the plane trees sing
the compelling ballad of puberty,
as she was reminiscing
on the loss of childhood liberty.

The plane trees’ chorus aroused
the familiar initiation
and nature conducted and caused
the children’s transformation.

Change to female eroticism
was a natural scheme.
That unavoidable schism
could destroy many a dream.

The wreaths of flowers raised up and down
as she recollected that sequence;
and the transition made her frown
at that memory of annual frequence.

As buds to leaves, youth to adult,
the next passage will have its rite;
and new mistakes will leave their fault
as character forms with insight.

In a rush of consequence
she blessed the women she saw.
In a sudden sacred silence
she kneeled down to the floor.

She prayed in a quiet tone
and left the sanctuary.
Returned to her eternal home
from her shrine in Therapne.

A purple sunset sinking;
and joined by fermented grapes
with Dionysus drinking,
men and women paired with their mates.