Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Deciphering The Sphinx, Part I

A Fall Custom

It’s an ancient spell
of sun and shadow
that conjures the shape
of a sphinx
emerging from the rock wall.

A storm of leaves
in her hair
and strong roots sinking
like clawed feet
into the forest clay.

I hear her pose a riddle.
Her voice
translucent with laughter
(shallow water with light)

 as she asks;
In this time of fruition
what does a woman weep
for more than her loss of youth ?

And I know too well – it’s the chances
she never took
and what she must abide
long after –

rain and fog
dust and mold.
The elements of regret.
The Sphinx  came back into my repertoire recently when my dear and talented friend, Marie-France, invited me to preview her newest image,  The Sphinx In Autumn”. Her feminine and mysterious portrayal of this  creature, induced me to contemplate the riddle of womanhood in the  season of middle age. It’s a time when we confront ourselves, past and present, our dreams and goals, fulfilled and unfulfilled.  In my poem,  the speaker encounters the wild aspects of her imagination, her sudden perception of a stone wall jutting into an open field. With the magic of light and shadow angling the landscape in a certain way, the narrator perceives a female being that is half lion and half woman . The creature poses a riddle , not in a menacing or lethal way as told in the classic myth, but as an impetus for the woman to contemplate what she weeps for most at this point in her life. Without much hesitation, she realizes it is the chances she never took, the lost opportunities that can not be regained. And beyond that, it is the lingering effects of regret, those elements of rain and fog, dust and mold. Each year we grow older and the season has a harvest. And each Autumn, there is a personal ritual, a custom we impose upon ourselves (as women) when we look across the field of  life and answer what haunts us the most.

The unique and mythical image of The Sphinx In Autumn  is the lovely design of French artist, Marie-France Riviere. More of her wonderful work can be found at
her on-line gallery or blogsite here --

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