I wrote this poem last week, but wanted to petition the Erinyes with it this morning because it is their sacred day.
Hail to the goddesses with snakes in their hair, companions of Persephone who speak for countless souls. Please hear my prayer, exacters of justice.
To the Erinyes.
Children of Nyx, in that grove beneath reach
of sun, star, and sky, where pomegranates
have made your hands sticky with seeds countless
as the souls howling beyond the black gates,
hear me as I pray for people now gone.
Sandalwood gently carries the spice-rich
incense down to you in Plouton’s gardens,
accompanying my voice, prayers, and pleas.
I opened the Kasumi this weekend,
immediately knew it was Your scent.
When I drew back the delicate paper
protecting these dark gray sticks, I took out
three and brought them to your shrine, where I lit
each in turn because I know the lunar
cycles — yours is the fifth of each decad.
Erinyes, you act for the voiceless dead
seething within the wide earth below us,
those who pass curses when wine-casks open
during the howling snowstorms before spring,
drawn up as the smell perfumes the cities.
We who keep your festival, who leave you
sacred cakes on your shrines to satisfy
our departed, happy and unhappy,
and the indigenous whose blood drenches
the psychic soil of our cities and towns,
know that your anger does not care for wealth.
Avenging goddesses, our dead performed
rites and faced death for dutiful conduct.
They died protecting the Serapeum,
defending sacred groves, defying laws.
Avenging goddesses, we come from their
killers, an ancestral Ouroboros.
The kinship bonds lie broken at our feet.
We have picked up the pieces, but are we
truly free when we have rooted out taint?
Our ancestors burned Mayan sacred texts,
enslaved generations, demolished shrines,
for the love of a god who loathes difference.
Avenging goddesses, these murderers —
proselytizers in our families.
This pollution is harder to condemn,
but necessary — do what must be done.
Eumenides, may you have Athene’s
exacting strategy when you pursue.
When you leave this still pomegranate grove,
snake-haired maidens, you will act as you must.
I leave the rest to trust, but only ask
— I who worships you lighting Kasumi —
— I who wrote your new Eumenideia —
shield us from painful grapeshot, we who raise
shrines and utter prayers not heard since incense
bore the death penalty and temples shut.
Turn the dead from our thresholds, pacified.
Grant us success and ancestors’ blessings,
cleansed from agos by the rites we now give.
Many of us still remember our gods.