Book of Myths

Over the canned announcements on the train,
she continues to tell me about the birth of Titans,
how Cronus swallowed his own babies, and how
you would think the world began with Zeus,
but he was once a baby, and the world began
instead with Gaea, Mother Earth. I wanted
to tell her that it’s all myth—not just those
ancient stories, but others, too:

the patient turtle that holds us upright,
we people made of clay and rib. So many
ways to organize a world. So many things
to understand, however we can.

Left unfinished is any idea of how
to tell her our myths, too, the ones
I spent Sundays learning, week by week,
craft by craft. Apostles’ boats of Ivory
soap, woven willow twigs signifying
something (baskets, perhaps, for loaves
and fishes?). It’s different when
the myths are still living, still asking
to be believed, when there is
a prickle you can’t deny

before you throw away the Bible tract,
when the church bells sing a song
you still remember.

Someday, I want to give her
these things, too:  a giant boat,
a pillar of salt, a god-man-ghost
leaping, unseen but recognized,


For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


16 thoughts on “Book of Myths

  1. Dick Jones says:

    This appears to be a section of a much longer narrative. I’m intrigued because, powerful though this is, it’s a little like glancing through a window into a room within which some large and complex drama is being enacted.

  2. Ursa Bowers says:

    This was very well-written, and described a feeling that I often have– that I could appreciate biblical stories the way I do the beautiful and strange myths from other cultures, if I hadn’t been asked to believe in them as a child (and still, continually, by a culture that seems to believe that morality is grounded in Biblical belief.) It’s hard for me to revel in the majestic and awe-inspiring scope of Christian mythology, when it is so often used to suppress the rights of myself and others. What an excellent poem!

  3. Thank you, Ursa! And yes, that’s my dilemma, too … I knew from about the age of 4 that I didn’t believe, and since then I’ve gone through various phases as far as what I think about organized religions, spirituality, etc. — and it’s definitely easier to enjoy the less familiar myths because there’s less personal baggage there. As for my kids, I do want them to know the stories, especially since they are (for better and for worse) so fundamental to our culture.

  4. indieflower says:

    I completely agree. It’s so difficult to teach children the differences between magic/fairytale/myth and a truth that is just as fantastical and seemingly unbelievable as fictional literature and folklore.

  5. lucychili says:

    i think you can add economics and democracy to the myths. i wish more of our present day myths had respect for ecology and our responsibility to the earth.

  6. So interesting how ideas float in the air so that we may all grab onto them– my submission had a similar “myth” –“religion” theme. I enjoyed the narrative of this 🙂 ~peace, Jason

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