Scylla and Charybdis
Nine months you floated infinite seas,
Small mariner, navigating heartbeats.
Then, All Soul’s Day, the labor harrowed
And you set sail through treacherous narrows.
My body, once a nymph, a lovely daughter,
Born of god and mortal, turned monster.
The suction sucked you to the slight of my hips
While many heads howled outside the cliffs.
The prow of your ship skirted the dark strait
Between that rock of bone and that hard place,
Yet for two whole nights the mean, bitter myths
Would not let you pass through their cruel midst.
Like Ulysses’ men, plucked from the bow,
They cut you out of me. And now
Each midnight, passage to your sweetest dream
Is interrupted by terror. You scream.
Rocking you at my breast to soothe your wails,
I sing a lullaby: sail, baby, sail.
© Nancy Slavin 2009