Medea’s Threnody by Pamelyn Casto

Beware, beware you breaker of vows,
Apostate to the laws of love.
The vehicle of scales stands at wait
While the savage mother keenly wails,
And the hell hounds begin their bay.
Then begins the hell hounds’ bay.
You dared dismiss her sacred cave
Where the witching-eyed woman
Lulled the serpent asleep;
Where she of the potent elixirs
Sang her songs of charm and succor,
Sang her songs of succor and charm.
You dared dismiss that vernal wood
Where the saffron-sweet dancer
Gathered those herbs so strange
That kept you from burning away—
She, barefoot mistress of mysteries dark,
The mistress of mysterious art.
For your scorn, the willow priestess
Chants omens and casts her stalks
On linen of white at the forking stream,
Fettered is the bird to the fire wheel
While being born is a shape so baneful,
A baneful shape is being born.
Down at the crossroads this very night
Three times she turns beneath the stars
And thrice shrieks her wailing plaint.
Oh woe to you, you breaker of vows—
See the moon turn pale at her song,
So pale is the moon at her song.

This poem originally appeared in Ship of Fools, Winter 1994, Vol. 30.


Pamelyn Casto has articles on flash fiction published in Writer’s Digest, Fiction Southeast, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letter, Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading, and in Critical Insights: Flash Fiction. She is associate editor flash fiction discourse at OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters Her poems have been published in several print and online publications including Better Than Starbucks, Poetry Repairs, and KYSO Flash. Soon Gargoyle will publish another of her poems.