November 2011 - Comments Off on Transfiguration of Daphne

Transfiguration of Daphne

Catherine Pikula '13


In summer, through cornfields Daphne wandered,
bow on shoulders, practiced her shooting.
Chased the turkeys down to the river.
Her dress cut at the knee, feet bare and loose
hair stuck with leaves. Set an arrow free,
aimed high and pierced the cantaloupe sun.

Sweat gathered at her neck, saliva of the sun.
Near white oak trees three deer wandered.
She tracked them to the corn field free
of crop. Drew back on her bow to shoot.
Fingers slackened as an arrow flew loose.
Dragged her prize by its hooves to the river.


Daphne served dinner at the river.
Her father’s table beneath evening sun
fenced by marble pillars with ivy loosely
strung. Father told her not to wander,
stole away her bow. Said shooting
was for men not daughters seeking freedom.


Daphne stood shaking walnuts free
from lower branches grey as river.
Bent to gather miner’s lettuce shooting
through the garden plot. Under sun
her face burned, jealous of the wandering
light. On her wrist a basket hung loosely.


She hid the rabbit hides, tied loose
their hands and feet. Never felt as free
with a secret from father, how she wandered.
Washed the mud from her body at the river.
Laid naked on the bank drying in sun
warm and probing. Drew her bow but couldn’t shoot.


Dug her toes in dirt for rooting, hands shooting
into bark. Father witnessed her loose
leaves catching fire in the red of the sun.
As the geese took flight for a winter free
of snow, father cried at the frozen river--
will never have grandchildren that wander.


The life of a laurel: thought to be free.
Wind blows across the stationary river.
In cornfields alone, turkeys wander.

Catherine Pikula is a student of Literature and Philosophy.

Published by: in Poetry, Volume 68

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