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Patty Seyburn

Doris the Goddess

bore 50 nereids

and did not complain,

rode a hippocamp in Poseidon’s wedding cortege,

was not very important,

ruled over everywhere fresh water met brine—

a very good place to fish,

child of two Titans with 21 siblings

(or nearly 3000, depending on source)

some of whom you’ve heard of,

some not. Some gain notoriety

beyond their ken—

Iris, goddess of rainbows,

her mother Electra, lovely and invisible

until Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus,

Eugene O’Neill and, of course, Jung,

who made her a famous complex.

This is before the Olympians—all

celebrities, charmed by the idea

of a species like them, yet not,

made in their image, yet not empowered—

and here we are, admiring

their sculptures in a hoary museum,

or their imitations in a courtyard

with a water feature,

marble eyes containing

leftover Promethean fire.

He told Zeus: they will outlast us.

Hail, Doris! You are more or less

unrepresented, your sobriquet

an alloy of gift and purity.

Myself, I have known

your namesake, an amanuensis

(fancy secretary) who knew

everything, ran everything—Virgil

of the bureaucracy, a kindly Charon

of the dark waters between frustration

and clarity—and she was

strange and kind as a goddess

with a rare lack of desire for power

might be.

About the Author | Second in Poetry | Linda Purdy Memorial Prize

Patty Seyburn has published five books of poems: Threshold Delivery (Finishing Line Press, 2019); Perfecta (What Books Press, 2014); Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She is a professor at California State University, Long Beach.

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