Goddess of a Thousand Works

The owl swoops, seizes women by the arms
and carries them from a cold estate,
more watchful than retired generals on their farms

who pile spoils like fat bureaucrats to sate
their virile vanity. She knows their rough
lessons; a few inches of point will rate…

About the poem

This poem was published in issue 23 of Three Drops from a Cauldron.

The poem’s title is a reference to the Roman goddess Minerva, the goddess of wisdom who is often represented as an owl. Minerva is also the goddess of strategic warfare, and in this poem, I use Minerva’s bird’s eye view to represent the impact of war on women.     

I imagine that Minerva would be sympathetic to the women caught up in the Roman invasion, and particularly to the various aspects of violence that they are exposed to. As a wise goddess, she would also be alert to the various hypocrisies and elements of corruption, as well as the more obvious violence. 

It’s often said that history is written by the victors, and this poem offers another perspective that gives voice to the version of history that “had its throat cut / and left a whispered existence,” on the pages of history. I would love to say that this poem is an examination of the past, but it is just as relevant today as it would have been in Roman times, though many do not have the magic of Minerva to lift them from the battle field. It’s a poem about the power of belief, the importance of telling stories and the wisdom of thinking about major events from different perspectives.