Australia, (b. 1945)
After the Trojan War he is said to have died of mortification when he found that there was a better seer than himself in Mopsus.
— Betty Radic
- Calchas, it’s just an expression we use:
- ‘to die of embarrassment’–
- why did you have to go and do it?
- Just because Mopsus said there were
- ten thousand and one figs on the tree,
- and there were, or because he said
- a sow would give birth to nine piglets,
- all male, at 6 a.m. the next day, and she did…
- I mean, pigs, figs, what does it matter?
- You were a prophet without gift
- but good enough to know your day was over.
- A younger, fitter man outguessed you–
- surely a moment to cover your tracks
- with a few guru-type sayings like:
- ‘Let us eat the figs, not count them’ or
- ‘Predict the litter; turn the sow’s milk sour’.
- You could have sown confusion and saved face,
- Calchas … Then, retirement at a seaside town,
- funded by a lifetime of rigged predictions.
- And there you’d have been — watching the tide
- drain out each day, ignoring the waves’
- dazzle, the silver flight-lines of the gulls,
- and seeking, until your light winked out,
- the alchemy of dropped change.
- Not all of them were changed to swine.
- She kept experimenting,
- intuiting their hidden selves,
- unlived wishes:
- body of a lion; head of a horse;
- wolverine eyes; voice of nightingale.
- Dignity had nothing to do with it:
- they stood composed, liberated,
- accepting their natures.
- Once she tried transforming one
- into an image she might desire.
- She concentrated. Would this work–
- the most quixotic magic of all?
- A crinkly sound. Was that a dragonfly–
- out the window before she could blink,
- skywriting in silver across a rainbow?
- The wrong page, the wrong potion —
- why does she always get light-headed
- when it’s been raining?
- It’s dusk:
- now she must mix their feed–
- for that she will need her wits about her.
- Animal, or mineral?
- Brazen hands,
- wings of gold,
- swine-like tusks,
- snakepit hair.
- What fear or memory
- of the bestial,
- of inhuman cold,
- petrifies you
- as you look?
- And what do their eyes
- seek — recognition?
- Each gorgon is
- pig, bird, snake,
- offers means for
- sumptuous adornment:
- bronze, ivory,
- gold; diadems
- of glittering
- serpent eyes.
About the Poet:
Diane Mary Fahey [aka: Diane Mary Brotheridge], Australia, (b. 1945), is a poet and teacher. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Literature from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Western Sydney.
Fahey’s main creative concerns are nature writing, Greek myths, visual art, fairy tales and literary mystery novels. She has also explored themes relating to ecology and the natural world.
Fahey began publishing her poetry in Australian and international poetry journals and anthologies in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A winner of the 1985 Mattara Poetry Prize and many other awards, Fahey has been widely published in Australian and internationally and received writing grants from the Australia Council, Arts Victoria and Arts South Australia. She has been writer in residence at Ormond College, University of Melbourne and the University of Adelaide.
Fahey has also been poetry editor of the journal Voices (1997), and in 2007 published a historical crime novella, The Mystery of Rosa Mortland. [DES-12/17]