Sundials, moon dials,

with these at least I feel

at ease, calibrated as I am

to east of one, west of the other.

My parents and false sisters

unseen since my wanderings 

began, I take bearings only

from the arc of horizon. 

In slavery, I suffer the scourges 

wielded by Worry and Sorrow,

the goddess’s handmaidens, I am 

tasked to sort seed from grain.

Ants and wool-whispering reeds aid

me in Aphrodite’s trials. From Hades 

I’ll fetch water, a golden box. They say 

I am that from which all thought arises.

No immortal dares to champion me

in my questing. I carry honeycakes 

for the dog’s three heads, coins in my mouth for the ferryman.


My sleep life is murky, I wake new

every day banded with light, blink myself

into shape & pour a cup of that poison

I infuse with hope it will put things right.

My path is obscure, I walk in air

brittle as crystal, snow underfoot. Faces 

are blanked with windshield glare. I don’t

know how to ask for help on my route.

My liftoff deferred, I navigate curves

with a strong sense of winging, corolla whorl

weightless in sky. Yet, grip tight on wheel, 

all I observe are my futile efforts to soar.

My memory muddled, I will never arrive

at a highway’s end without wondering where

it comes from. The spark that ignites makes

the past come alive—a smile, a valiant blue.

The world is still strange, but I tiptoe round 

ledges in sweet wash of freedom, wild mind 

defined, gather up sea-glass & pebbles as pledges,

sure that learning to steer isn’t learning to drive. 

Frances Boyle is a Canadian writer, living in Ottawa. Her books include This White Nest, poetry (2019), Seeking Shade, short stories (2020) and Tower, a novella (2018). Her third poetry collection, Openwork and Limestone, is forthcoming in fall 2022. Frances’s writing has appeared throughout North America and internationally, with recent and forthcoming work in Blackbird, Paris Lit Up, EX/POST Magazine, Daily Drunk’s Marvelous Verses Anthology and elsewhere. Visit and follow @francesboyle19 on Twitter and Instagram.

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