The Adirondack Review
The Oracle Encounters Competing Myths

Underground, in haze, a woman switches bodies:
fins for feathers, head for a nightingale's.
He lets her change lie as a thought inside him.

In his basement room, cars hurtle past the window;
turtles munch on low-lying grass. From his bed,
he sees a flash – a frame of the thing most loved,

the one that keeps her distance.  First a cat,
a shadow: no human thing.  Was it the nightingale
whose tongue was cut?  The python that was killed,

rotted and golden, out of whose ashes rose such
godlike prophecies?  Perhaps only a clot, a thrust
of tongue.  Or was that mouth silent, and bare reason

that spoke, telling futures from the layered ground?
The logic was correct, all patience lost in the
philosophical move from god to girl.  The woman's

been envisioned as manic, serpent-bodied; this she
has come to believe.  No one's around – her voice
is hollow, whimless, the consummate fulfiller of needs.

Inside, she can't tell where the barbs should go, if
she should give voice to the competing gods.  Was it
the nightingale, was it the stork that sang while men grew

old, embattled?  Or cleverness, not waiting to be born?



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REBECCA GIVENS has poems published or upcoming in the Cincinnati Review, Versal, American Letters & Commentary, and Harpur Palate.  She currently lives in Boston, and her website is at www.rebeccagivens.com.
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems