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Feasts of Fire and Air Poetry by Virginia Stewart
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Hymn to the Dark Mother

What joy can not countenance,
still there is the breath of pain and darkness
to embrace me and hold sacred this intemperance

I have seen the dark and terrible Mother
that hovers on black burnt wings above a polluted city,
drenched in pristine illumination.

Her breath a charnel stench of rich decay
tracked through with tiny prints of plague rats,
standing delicately on desiccated eyes
clattering away from crushed skulls.

Her touch ripping at the screaming flesh,
all outpouring helpless entrails into filthy streets.

Her wings soaked in naphtha and sulfur,
perfumed in oak moss and violets, shimmering.

This is the Lady of Night, whose kisses bring the rapture
of oblivion and numbing stillness,
forever the quietude of agony.

Silent now, and listening
for the skitter of loathsome, lovely things
that creep in the darkness of Her velvet cloak.

"Lie down with me,
She whispers with a voice of dust and corruption,
" and taste the life and death, of blood and pain,
of plague and war,of limbs torn on hooks,
writhing in the embrace of My love.

Terrible mother,
I see a procession of timbrels and sistra,
of dry bones chittering and rustling,
a choir of rotted children dancing
and strewing the petals of maiden's fingers upon
A path painted with the blood of the countless You have slain.

Laughing, You drink up their pain and hollow victories.

You are the Victorious One,
never vanquished.

Your wings touch my lips,
and my body dissolves in the acid of Your Divinity.

Blessed art Thou, Shimmering Lady of Morning,
Your bed stained with the birth blood of all those slain,
they cry again,
and are lifted in Your arms,
radiant and holy.

You have cast off Your veil of darkness
and Your gown is girded with gold and jasper,
lapis gleams at your throat.

With delicate strokes, You caress decay until there is only light,
kiss the pain until there remains only joy,
deep and silent and overflowing.

You pour out the river of stars from your darkness,
and scatter life like drops of rain upon the field of desolation.
Your voice calls the warm wind that wakens spring,
and dips into the darkness to wrench life from nothingness.

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