Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 19 . . .

The Eidolon

     by Paul Stevens
     art: artist unknown. “The Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.” 1600-1602. Oil on canvas.

     Private collection of the Marquess of Salisbury. Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, UK.

          “There is no unmarked woman” —Deborah Tannen

There is no unmarked woman, only icon.

She has composed her own oracular mask

Through which the force of artifice can speak,

A goddess bodied in her eidolon.

Embroidered flowers and lacy tracery,

Semé’d milky pearls; a jewelled moon;

New lips of cinnabar vermilion,

Coral blossom, bones of new ivory,

Radiant mane above her polished brow;

Basilisk garnet gaze that stares and stares,

Her cloak alive with wild eyes and ears,

She stands beyond men’s definitions now:

   The subtle serpent on her sleeve coiled tight,

   God’s ruby heart gripped in the serpent’s bite.


Paul Stevens teaches literature and historiography to senior high school students, and has widely published verse and prose in both print and pixel. He was born in Yorkshire, lives in Australia, and dreams of Catalunya.


© 2010 Paul Stevens