IN A TIME OF STORMS
Purple clouds mass along the horizon.
Sheet lightning crackles.
Black winds cut,
keen as an obsidian knife.
Out of the dark west she rides.
From the yellowing east she comes.
Her white flags fly to the north.
In the south her red fires are lit.
The rock peaks split.
and the past is laid open.
A light rain falls.
and the future rises,
vapor on her breath.
Death is real.
She speaks again
and death is not an end.
– Harriet Ann Ellenberger
Note: I wrote this poem in 1989, and it was eventually published under the title “Thunder, Perfect Mind,” a phrase I’d stolen from a translation of the Gnostic Gospels. I loved those three words put together, but felt bad about being a thief—also, the poem had nothing to do with gospels, gnostic or otherwise.
When the poem was to appear in Trivia: Voices of Feminism, I came up with a new title, “Return of Earth.” Only problem was, the earth didn’t go away so how could she return? I ignored the illogic of that because I was desperate.
Years later, climate change so extreme that everyone noticed it gave me the good title, and “In a Time of Storms” appeared in Return to Mago on 24 July 2013.
The moral of this tale of titles may be that if you live long enough, you’re no longer a voice of Cassandra, you’re simply reporting the evening news.