Monday, May 24, 2010

The Pleiades

Some people are bursting with stories; I am not. The eight bones that form a vault over my brain do not house stories. A constellation of thought, yes. A Pleiades of scattershot impressions. Those seven sisters dance in my head: Maia, Electra, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope. The nymphs born of their father, the titan Atlas, and their mother, the sea nymph Pleione who was known to protect sailors. The seven sisters trip over their own white feet, pursued by Orion the hunter. So the story goes. Their dresses weigh them down, those unbearably light nymphs. They trip over the heavy fabric of their gowns, the linen that creases and billows like sailcloth in the breeze. Artemis, the great huntress, begs mercy for them. Mercy, mercy, she begs Zeus. So Zeus turned the seven sisters into stars. Although some say they were first changed to doves. Thoughtless storytellers turn them into feathers and flight. A constellation of doves; a flight of white and gray and dawn-fingered-pink wing bursting from the heart of sky. And then receding, disappearing up, up, up into the night and becoming Mallarm√©’s constellations: words spread across the sky: whitened and wing; the expansive wingspan like a hull, and the vessel rocked from side to side. Sisters to birds to words, and finally to stars. These are the constellations that fill my head under the darkened skydome of the occipital and parietal bones. And the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup trill out their night song: a constellation of bone within my head, white as the seven sisters and singing out their siderial music.

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