Las Moiras

La enterraron en la tumba familiar
y en las profundidades tembló e polvo
del que fue su marido:
la alegría
de los vivos
es la pena de los muertos.
Octavio Paz, “Epitafio de una vieja”*

In a side-chapel disguised as poverty,
a somber triad of ageless women in black
share silent histories in absentia:
a nether-cosmos,
wisdom indifferent to the Greek logophilia.

Three ageless women in black who have replaced
three ageless women in black who have replaced
generations in a Zodiak of ageless indistinguishable
trines in black,

sit silent, like Moirai at their profound work,
Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos –
a black trinity arranged before the supine
effigy of a petrified saint,
who lies for the convenient ortho-dogma
of pliable theology.

The women in black know the range of liturgies:
They are mothers.
They are grandmothers.
They are the generations that marry young,
from Quinseañera to alter in a quick-change of finery,
from white to white

to black.
They have tamed husbands –
mostly tame, and mostly for their only protection
in the earthy fields and kitchens,
the door-yards of Purgatory.

They have raised children well beyond the number
that obliterates ease and maybe love –
stretched out and far away into the population of generations
filling barrio and church and church-yard.

The women in black are acquainted with Earth –
the matters of nature, nurture, culture –

Outside the eucharistical numbness of eternality,
beyond the automatic sacrifice of meditation
the women survive,
mere and fully mortal
como los sagrados emblemos profanos
of all who survive:
Ellos sobriviven.

La muerte no es más que justicia – ciega.
No menos. Pero Ciega.

*They buried her in the family tomb
and in the depths the dust
of what was once her husband
joy for the living
is sorrow for the dead.
(trans. Eliot Weinberger)

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.