The Book of Myth

—We call ourselves ripe, and pine tree, and woman.
–Joy Harjo

for Margie

My aunt gave me a book of fairy tales
wrote on the first page, to the gal
with the mystic mind;
she knew I had flown
to Venus in the dark night
sat in the ashen light of her crescent
when she crossed the disk of the sun

At Grandfather’s funeral, black veil stitched
across eyes, she slips by the tips of her fingers
a handkerchief into my hands folded in my lap
while she sings in her winsome soprano, Oh they tell me
of a home,
so pure we cousins swooned

At 17 she married, moved to central Alabama
was never heard singing, Unclouded Day
instead, Mamma said, listened to Ferlon Husky
while she drank beer, fished on the Tuscaloosa River

sorrowed over the death of a daughter
she gave me grandmother’s emerald stone
set in silver which I wear while I divide my time
looking for that book lost so long ago and sitting
on my back stoop, my eye on Venus especially
in December when she’s casting her shadow over
the pines-ripe like a woman whose eyes once held
the sorcery of a cold night, who knew the ritual of women.

Poem by Libby Bernardin