Home > Poetry > Woman with Coiled Braids
Published: Wed Oct 15 1975
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 4 Mysteries Spirituality Youth
Woman with Coiled Braids

They blamed a horse for the scar we could only guess
at night small and shaking,
trying in our beds
to part those lengths of hair
and peer into her secret.

In our dry hours the shining green of oaks
declared the woman safe
who knew that far sweet rumors
slept their tides
through spirals at each ear.

Silk came to a rippling end when she unbound it.
We saw her huntress-robed
to net the moon,
the snare blown back
to show her perfect body.

The disc fell heavy as a hoof on pillowed clouds
her head supported.
We watched the crater fill
with the nightly grief of that wavering image
at the bottom of the well.

Nothing we understood would lift her streaming hair
our vision kissed awake.
The ghost came back
to swing from gloomy braids in the very tree
where sun had played our games.

A noose around the throat of strangled leaves
pale bones tossed up
on beaches of the sky. Kelp trailed the kite
we dreamed frail as paper
the ribboned sunlight bounced again.

See what's inside AGNI 4
Online 2023 Mysteries Journeys Youth
“I live out my life in the widening coils”
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated from the German by David Keplinger
Online 2023 Mysteries Spirituality Journeys
The Singing Bone
Online 2021 Home Spirituality Youth
Early Church
AGNI 91 Mysteries Spirituality

Madeline Defrees is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Spectral Waves (Copper Canyon Press, 2006) and Possible Sybils: New Poems (Lynx House Press, 2006). She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently lives in Seattle. (updated 6/2010)

Back to top