Hymn to Artemis
Hail, bright Artemis, queen of silver bow,
pale twin to brighter brother, and more sly:
help us feel the world’s wild undertow,
to love both robin’s song and vulture’s cry,
and know what brings coyotes to the fold.
What red fox can resist the chicken coop,
if the housecat still lays out headless mice
and wolves still bare their throats, when sick and old,
to canines more fierce and young? Hawks will stoop
upon rabbits yet, and none will think twice
but that the strong should devour the weak,
and that hunting dogs should turn on the deer.
Every twilight your argent arrows speak,
and someone remembers that death is near.
From your thousand breasts comes all sorts of milk,
meet food for the young to nourish their strength,
and drink in love of predator and prey.
Niobe’s children wore leather and silk,
yet their power could not add to life’s length:
Disease felled them, and their souls would not stay.
Gleaming goddess, remind us: all things die.
Corruption clings to egg and seed alike;
Life everlasting is a tarnished lie,
or a pleasant dream from which none can wake.
Disease can blacken both body and mind,
and maids of waxing beauty wane to crones.
Teach us to pursue living, while we may.
There are woodland paths we have yet to find,
marvels burrowing beneath unturned stones,
and untold secrets hidden from the day.