I have spent the last several years transcribing notes from napkins, old journals, running text messages to my self, and sporadically placed post-its. Cataloging the chaos that has become a dysfunctional system for me in my 30's has been an ongoing effort. I've stressed over how to categorize, unify, and present hundreds of poems, prose, and partially thought out ideas. After some lighthearted counsel with one of my absolute oldest friends, I decided how I wanted them organized but still struggled with revisions and dividing them from the chronological order in which they were written, as I can be a little compulsive. I'm sure those who know me well are riddled with surprise. The one thing I've been absolutely sure of, is that each book will be titled after a goddess, encompassing their attributes, symbolism, and stories of which I connect with. As I was preparing to enter a chapbook contest, I found myself weighed down by the pressure of writing a title poem for book one (of five), Athena.
As it turned out, Athena was the poem I didn’t know I needed. The poem that absolutely had to be written in order for me to understand who I am now and for me to be comfortable publicly laying claim to my existence as a writer. Completing Athena redefined what I wanted for my book and for who I want to be as a published writer. This has led to hours of extended research and rewrites well spent. That said, I never made the contest deadline, and much of what I started with (a modest 30 page chapbook) has been heavily reworked and is transforming into the full length manuscript I've conjured in dreams and planned on vision boards over the years. My memories and experience delivered in poetry. Delivered as myth, magic, fairytale, fiction, history, and culture, yet still - as nothing but my reality and it's many transformations and stages of life.
The women in my family are born with equal parts tenacity and tenderness, may their eternal love continue to guide, forge, and comfort me. Without further ado, for the women that made me and the woman they've made me into, I present, Athena.
I come from a line of women rooted in legends of myth.
I stand here a mosaic of symbolism and virtue.
A biological structure composed of lure.
Crafted with the threads of goddesses and mothers
from places I’ve never seen outside of my fantasies.
I kneel to be crowned in a halo of orange blossoms
and braided wheat. She said,
just for me, her Tiger Lily.
Destined to be sweet and victorious.
And I imagined myself
riding through Mount Olympus in a chariot
with her ghost by my side.
I, a ready warrior for battles I didn’t see coming.
My mother, her name was Maritza.
And though its bounty was worth its weight
in the iron of my spear,
she never understood what I loved about it.
Her name means of the sea.
You see? I am the daughter of Metis.
Born to bare the thunder of Zeus.
Despite her absence now,
she is the wisdom he and I carry.
Our most trusted counsel.
Since the day I sprouted,
armored and full of fight,
when I see the ocean,
I take a moment to be still.
Waves and ripples coming towards me.
A fluid field of turquoise shades of blues and greens.
And I feel her abundant love.
I stand here before you,
because I read Metis my ramblings as a child,
and she called it art.
In Spanish and in life,
she and her name were an alteration of her maker, Maria.
Every cell hand stitched with her mother’s modesty,
patience, and attention.
Leaving me the proud grand-daughter
of the Titan Tethys.
Reigning star dust,
I am the great-grand daughter of Gaia, herself.
A perfect host goddess for our very own Flora.
And from her gifts and provisions,
we all received the cinnamon of our skin. And the grit
to nurture those, we love
through the pains of mortal life.
I have spent most of my life
drawn to the desert
with no real reason why. Perhaps,
it was the rumors
that I am really the daughter of Poseidon and Tritonis.
Perhaps I was in search of Libya
when I found refuge in the sands
which hold up mountains in the name
and in mercy, of Atlas.
Perhaps I just longed for my forefathers of war
whose blood still lives in the sands of Tripoli.
Or maybe the salts of Lake Tritonis is a route
for my travel between worlds.
This river of the Triple Queens.
Making me maiden to the serpent.
Risen from mother’s waters.
Medusa as my crone.
No matter the version you chose,
or I tell.
The women before me were mighty.
Together we are a tapestry
still being dovetail woven over time.
But my era is just beginning.
All of this? This is just a fragment
of the mosaic of me.
Of the earth, the nymph, and the warrior in me.
Of the goddess in me.
(Athena: Title poem for my debut book coming soon!)