To Medeia

For Ellen.

Queenly Medeia with midnight braids
and sharp white teeth, lips the color
of virgin’s blood on a flint blade,
cheeks smooth and pale as bone,
dress shimmering like serpent scale
as you stir the herb-strewn cauldron
and sing ancient chants to the infernal powers
in your bird-lovely and heavily accented voice.
O sister of Absyrtos, you are hard and cold and unforgiving
as the snow-covered Colchian soil that bore you,
daughter of Aeëtes and mother of the horse-loving
race of Medes, archers beyond compare;
like them your sight is keen and unwavering,
your justice is implacable,
your reason unclouded by sentiment,
you see all the probabilities an act may set in motion,
perceive both the intended and unforeseen consequences
and so, Crimson Mistress, you do not flinch
from making the tough, necessary choice
that others could not bear, but will benefit from.
Chief priestess of the Black Sea Hekate,
Granddaughter of the unconquered Sun,
attendant of frenzied Dionysos,
initiate of the Samothracian deities,
drummer in the orgies of Mountain Mother Rheia,
fellow-traveler of Orpheus and overseer of the Green Way,
familiar of Baba Yaga and dweller in the witchy hut on forest’s edge
hear my prayers and lend your cunning and your power
to the work I am undertaking,
and Lady, I shall share a portion
of my generous client’s gift with you.