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Iphis and Ianthe

According to today’s Recycle, Reuse, Rewrite prompt, we are to ‘Find an old poem or two that you’ve abandoned and find a line, a title or a concept that really grabs you. Now use those to start a new poem, going in a direction entirely different than the original.’ I have written two or three different poems on the story of Iphis and Ianthe from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (English translation of the story) and decided to write another one, in a new direction, for this challenge.


Iphis and Ianthe: the end

There’s no transforming a girl to a boy,
this Iphis knows, but pretends the goddess
has answered her mother’s prayers and leaves
the temple with a testicular stride.
Ianthe knows (how could she not) and trembles
as the ceremony pledges her her mate.

But soon the judgement begins. Grow out your
beard, Iphis is told; Ianthe is said
to be barren; their home is not home to
accustomed discord. They’re letting both sides

down. They leave. And, as the past and the village
dwindles behind, Iphis grows to a woman.
They invent a tale of sisters betrothed
to a god and settle to faithful lives.

Year’s end

This poem is in response to the prompt on Not Without Poetry for today, to personify something. The prompt lists a set of questions to answer about the thing but I have to admit, once I thought of my object, my thoughts and words ran away with me.


Year’s end

The plastic splits in a smooth slirrup
and the bin’s halves clatter away.

The compost heap jiggles a little, as if
awakening, decompresses to a standing
ten feet tall, shakes off loose lettuce leaves
and some recent carrot tops then steps out.

As it treads the garden path, stones stick
to its feet, shoeing it. The fence proves
no obstruction; it leans into it
and the panels fuse to its decaying matter,
encasing it. Towards the village it strides,
jaunty and insouciant. A wood
on the way hinders it none. It emerges
leaved in a gown of autumn splendour and,
flowing behind, a captured web, finer
than a sovereign’s silk cloak, engenders

womanhood: this slows her not a bit.
On the main street, a toddler, crying, calls
to her and she stops, stoops to gather it
up. The child, warmed in an embrace of
older earth, calms and sucks its thumb, content
until its mother comes. She saunters on
to the village hall and the annual dance.
There she settles to a lesser height and
walks in. Like Cinderella she gathers
all gazes and is taken for every turn.

Night falls and the music slows, the last dance
is danced and couples depart followed
by the singled few, the band and the cleaners
too and she waves them all off to their homes.
The moon and the stars are clear and sharp
and they watch as she spreads herself out.
The stones form a pile and the leaves and the web
drift away on a breeze

and the year ends.