Valediction of the White Goddess

Thirty-five hundred years ago,
you would have been afraid to speak my name.
Now you don’t even know it,
and wouldn’t recognize me in all my glory
if I appeared in a blaze before you
on Main Street or in your basement.
I wasn’t driven into hiding,
but went willingly. I was tired.
Exhausting it is being a goddess,
always having to be powerful and just,
and keeping up this blinding beauty bit
was getting to be a bore. So I cut my hair,
dressed like a boy, and went across the water.
Found a streamside cabin away
from all the offerings, prayers, and praises,
and held the quiet so tight
that I forgot the sound of my own heart.
I ate nuts and corn, drank sassafras tea,
dozed by a low fire in winter.
I sat by the river and considered.
For whole days I didn’t even comb my hair.
What a wonder it was, what peace to be
left alone, uninvoked on holy days or disasters.
I am rested now, wiser in the ways of stones.
Sometimes I hear my name being called.
But I can’t go back. I haven’t gone to fat, but
I can’t deal with the flowing robes
and all those yards of hair.
I’ve been spoiled by my cabin,
and the luxuriousness of the green.
I wish you well.

[Rebecca Bailey is currently a ranger with the National Park Service. She taught writing for more than a decade at Morehead State University in Kentucky. She has published six books, most recently the poetry collection Meditation Upon the Invisible Ceremony of the Breath (Finishing Line Press). She’s recently been published in SageWoman, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Arts Perspective, Canyon Legacy, and Moab Sun News. She lives in Utah and Idaho.]

2 thoughts on “Valediction of the White Goddess”

  1. Dorita Brady said:

    I want to go to the cabin.

  2. Nan Boone said:

    I love this so much. I am going to share it with friends. It’s what a lot of us feel like.

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