Terminalia Ode

Ode for the Terminalia
(24 February)

In Roman times, the year began on the first of March, and so a series of festivals near the end of February functioned much as our holiday Christmas season does now. They were a time to renew old friendships, celebrate past year, mourn the dead, and settle accounts. Part of this festive time were the three festivals of 22-24 February: The Feralia, for making peace with the dead on 22 February; the Charistia, for making peace with the living on 23 February; and the Terminalia, for renewing the boundaries of the community, on the 24th.

Hail to you, fuzzy boundaries of my thought.
Greetings to the sharp world’s sharper edges.
Hail, new notions, in webs of custom caught.
Greetings to chances beyond high hedges,
not quite hidden from latch of garden gate
where known safety ends — yet beauty begins.
Where is grass greener but over the wall?
The same thing does not always satiate;
who feels it not when normality thins
to waking nightmares, as bitter as gall?

Terminus, boundaries have purpose and place.
Remind us of that when we come too near an edge
that opens too fast on infinite space
or drops among rocks from crumbling ledge.
Yet help us to cross imagined frontiers:
those borders we erected in our hearts
on lines of hate our ancestors engraved.
Open long-locked gates rusted shut with tears;
Though we would defend against the worlds’ hurts,
by bulwarks and redoubts we are not saved.

Today I set new boundaries for my heart,
and learn to regard the Earth’s four quarters
as a garden where I must do my part
to nourish herbs and waken lush parterres.
Today I open gates slightly wider,
and mend fences in hope of making friends
with intimate and infinite alike,
though mountains prove a mighty divider.
Spirit watching over the worlds’ ends:
help me raze walls that stand for the wall’s sake.

9 comments

  1. Yeah, the “I” thing…

    I trying to open myself up to new experiences, like using the word “I”. It’s a heady feeling, all this power and capability that comes from using a word you’ve never used before. It’s a little scary, using it.

    Don’t get too used to it. 😉

    I’m glad you like it, though. Everyone I’ve shown these to has thought they were really amazing and powerful, and as I wrote to Lorelei, I’ve gotten about ten letters on these three poems alone. It’s been pretty impressive. Lots of nerves touched, I guess.

  2. Glad you like this one…

    I’m glad you like this one.

    It seems like this trilogy of poems — Feralia, Charistia, Terminalia — really touched a bunch of nerves for lots of folks. I got more mail about these three than any one poem in the sonnet sequences or for any of the Imbolc poems. This is good, I think, especially since lots of the comments were specific and constructive. People were pretty specific about what they liked. I think I have ten responses among these three poems… not bad. Not bad at all.

    • Yeah, the “I” thing…

      I trying to open myself up to new experiences, like using the word “I”. It’s a heady feeling, all this power and capability that comes from using a word you’ve never used before. It’s a little scary, using it.

      Don’t get too used to it. 😉

      I’m glad you like it, though. Everyone I’ve shown these to has thought they were really amazing and powerful, and as I wrote to Lorelei, I’ve gotten about ten letters on these three poems alone. It’s been pretty impressive. Lots of nerves touched, I guess.

  3. Hail, new notions, in webs of custom caught.

    Ye gods YES! We humans are SO hidebound sometimes.

    “Why are we doing it like this?”

    “Because we’ve ALWAYS done it like this.”

    and mend fences in hope of making friends
    with intimate and infinite alike,

    *shiver*

    help me raze walls that stand for the wall’s sake.

    ASHE ASHE!!!!

  4. Hail, new notions, in webs of custom caught.

    Ye gods YES! We humans are SO hidebound sometimes.

    “Why are we doing it like this?”

    “Because we’ve ALWAYS done it like this.”

    and mend fences in hope of making friends
    with intimate and infinite alike,

    *shiver*

    help me raze walls that stand for the wall’s sake.

    ASHE ASHE!!!!

    • Glad you like this one…

      I’m glad you like this one.

      It seems like this trilogy of poems — Feralia, Charistia, Terminalia — really touched a bunch of nerves for lots of folks. I got more mail about these three than any one poem in the sonnet sequences or for any of the Imbolc poems. This is good, I think, especially since lots of the comments were specific and constructive. People were pretty specific about what they liked. I think I have ten responses among these three poems… not bad. Not bad at all.

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