Psyche’s Lamp

In this strange palace where seen things went unseen,
I had a mundane job to do:
to bring obscurity to light.

The tales say it was her astonishment,
setting her hand atremble,
that caused the drop of oil to fall.

But it was mine own.
Had I a mouth I would have gasped
when the circle of my illumination
revealed the monster

— dread eyes closed in sleep,
multi-hued wings folded
innocent as any napping dove’s,
ivory hands clutching the quiver
of fateful weapons to his smooth flank —

blazing brighter than my own wick’s burning.

I tipped toward that beauty,
drawn to it as I had drawn
dynasties of moths to my restive flame,
and scalded the unblemished shoulder.

Love awoke.
My fire extinguished in the hot breath
of his startled “Oh!”

Ever after, I would remain in darkness,
longing for another sight of Love,
waiting for the terrible god to rekindle me.

[Sandi Leibowitz is a native New Yorker who early in life fell in love with Apollo, Artemis and other beautiful deities and their tales and, unlike Orpheus, never looked back. Her fantasy fiction and poetry, mostly based myth and fairy-tales, has appeared or is forthcoming in Mythic DeliriumGoblin MarketJabberwockyApexNitebladeCricket and other magazines. She also sings classical, folk and early music, and performs with New York Revels.]