Aricia by David Kopaska-Merkel


Death in the Grove by night,

the mere at its heart a starry plain,

marred by yellowed leaves,

no signs of an old pact,

no remembrance,

no reenactment of the falling ox,

the bull, the goat, the horse, the cock of the dying year.

Always there, Her, the same, changeless, eternal,

the passion of the wood,

long centuries dying,

and thoughtless judgment on Her,

the falling ax, the sword, the brand, arrow, spear, mace,

faltering step, the stumble, the tumble,

down a cold dark tunnel with no end,

no beginning, just always Was,

but now forgotten, not remembered,

worship worn to a nub, a nothing, a footnote

in books, on parchment, written in pigs’ blood

on stones, on the leaves, the earth,

in the grunting rites, on their backs, their bellies,

the holy union,

each last attempt, the age-old job

of bringing the new year, it’s over, really

gone at last down that tunnel,

no name eternal, no burning,

no ghostly breath of mystery,

just a primeval fancy, the dry leaves of history,

nothing monumental, unseen,

moving with a powerful weight in the wind, the dancing leaves,

the waving grain,

hackle-raising in the ruddy glow of sunset,

no blood of sacrifice,

just Italian smog.


David C. Kopaska-Merkel edited Star*line in the late ‘90s, and later served as SFPA President. He won the Rhysling award (long poem) in 2006 for “The Tin Men,” a collaboration with Kendall Evans, and has edited two Rhysling anthologies. He was voted SFPA Grand Master in 2017. His poetry has been published in scores of venues, including Asimov’sStrange HorizonsPolu TexniIllumen, and Night Cry. He is the author of 30 books; several are available on Smashwords and Amazon. The newest is a poetry chapbook, Entanglement, co-authored with Kendall Evans, from Diminuendo Press. Kopaska-Merkel edits and publishes Dreams and Nightmares, a genre poetry zine in its 33rd year of publication. Blog: @DavidKM on Twitter. He and his wife live in a 120-year-old farmhouse. He shares a keyboard with two cats.


Published 8/15/19