Art Inspiring Poetry


Immortal Mother
By Wendy Osserman
Inspired by ‘Thetis”

Is she drowning him?
Costumed in strips of water
     she holds him straight upside down
     his baby ankle cupped in her hand

I read the title
she is Achilles' mom
     Now I see the blade of moonlight
     pointing at his heel

Sky and field
past and future enclose her
     a goddess who can change shape
     and prophesy

She would hover here forever
to protect him
     She might save him
     if she let him go

This sea daughter will learn
what mortal mothers know
     giving birth
     is giving death


Dear Thetis"
By Teya Priest Johnston
Inspired by “Thetis"
This is what happened.

I was eleven, sequestered,
hellish, angry, Florida, summer.
Mercy a constant longing.
A reprieve in mother’s drug cabinet.
I slept, not for lack of love,
but a solemn anguish holding vessel.

There were pools everywhere,
except not in our backyard.
The slap of awakening
was severe. The house hotly full,
with no sound of baby sister.
I leaped,
the first time seeing,
every curtain closed,
meant no sight of tricycle,
no red wagon carting dolls,
no way to know the world.

Across the street, a manicured yard,
lines of black trim along the white
flat-topped pebbled roof,
no cars in the drive,
a snake-curve of sidewalk led
to the filigree iron gate,
hanging open.

In a fire walker’s
singular hysteria,
no pain, not knowing
how I arrived.
I held my breath.

Thetis, there she was
leaned over, peering down,
hands upon her precious knees,
little mouth pursed
with deciding.