Daughter of Night

by Todd Jackson

Ranked first among Thine agonies
That one so lovely should go cowled.
Early March.

Cold rains have crossed California

Then rolled over the Sierras and dipped down upon us,

And six straight days chilled Las Vegas.

These cold rains, then carried East along the high wind,

And did great mischief there;

Snow lies two feet deep and more all up the seaboard.

Back here, back West, the Valley lies refreshed.

At midweek there had been a tight seam of heat inside two cold days,

And Saturday we burst into the seventies.


Tonight, the summit of Mount Charleston,

The high point of Earth in this broad County;

The crooked Moon hangs above,
just off the peak of black Night.

Hekate’s, the crooked Moon, that slices even Night.

The Moon is framed, off-center,
by the silhouetted tips of the bristlecone pines,

That sprouted when quick girls still dared bulls at Minos.

No longer even a green blush now within that soft mass;

The pines are but blacker shapes against black Night,

Jagged in the corners of my sight, the stars all hid behind.

While, below, warm spring sunlight has stroked Las Vegas,

Then soothed it with cool winds,

It is white winter here atop Mount Charleston,

Where the cloudwater fell as it would fall two thousand miles east,

As snow.

Winter had entered the valley as a nymph in white taffetta,
billowing through Night;

She drifted southeast, sailing among the clouds,

Snagged underneath by the tips of all the Sierras,

And above,

Snagged also upon the crooked Moon;

The winter nymph here has paid due tribute

To Hekate,

Then flowed eastward in a shredded gown.

Mount Charleston, as the tall peak, has snagged its own big patch off the gown,

And I am standing here, one man among two amid white snow,

And I am black, like Hekate,

And the hounds,

Here, cast against white snow, as

Above, on white moondust.
I look now with all my eyes

And behold, the splash of dogprints in the snow.

Io Hekate, Daughter of Night

Ahead, three roads crossing, and She knows the steepest way.

Io Hekate, Daughter of Night

Priced steep is Her wisdom, and only the hard can pay.

For the Moon, and Nevada, are two great concaves toward each other,

Split by black broad space
As great palms outspread in the Night,

So that the Moon, and Nevada, are not aimless wanderers;

They are pinned,

Such that that tight cislunar space has sprung five whirlpools,

And close upon Nevada, encircling the Earth, a skin of gathered Sunfire.

I leave bootprints in the snow atop the mountain, as

Above, in that white sliver dangled among distant stars

There are boot prints studded in the Moon dust.

Io Hekate, Daughter of Night

Ahead, three roads crossing, and She knows the steepest way.

Io Hekate, Daughter of Night

Priced steep is Her wisdom, and only the hard can pay.

Hers is the Moon, and especially the crooked Moon.

Hers that part of Dionysos’ sap that poisons and heals.

Hers is the jellyfish sting.

And that bright droplet off the rattler’s fang,

That inside itself is whirling as it dangles there.

Hers, the thirst for riches, that gives focus to spirit,

Hers, the hymen between salesman and closer,

And the big red X on the board.
Hers, the black and the red of the dice.

Hers, the garlic bulb,

That is poison unto poison itself, and thereby heals.

Hers, my recent trade of blood against poverty,

And that blood pays cheap.

Hers the nuggets still dug deep in the land, unpicked,

Waiting,

And the black oil that is the pressed rot of ancient flesh,

And that pools and surges within the Earth,

Then sails the broad seas in ships more numerous

Than breadcrumbs strewn before an audience of birds,

And all, because it burns.

Hers the honorific, Nigger, that is the curse, and delight, of my people,

The choice of Black, and the weight inside that choice,

That may not now be unchosen.
For we now are Hers,

And Her grip will not be broken.

Hers the dark shining in the abyss,

Earth’s bowels burst hot through the ocean floor,

Hers the weird dark forests that thrive there,

In the pressure.

Hers the ice and the metal in the Moon.

Hid beneath deep rock, yet there is no hiding

From the torchlight.

Hers, the quarter million miles of cold death.

Hers is that knowing of woman that woman may only know

By knowing herself, and among the herbs.

Hers, the mystique of woman.

I know a lady the color of moonlight on bundled wood.

People are dying in her dreams who aren’t dead yet.

That comes afterward, and soon.

I have yet to touch the lady.

One day I shall.

Under Night,

Winding down the mountain road.

My friend and I observe upon the city, art, and blackjack.

She

I cannot long speak of.

She

Is not yet fully speakable in this time.

But down in that great splash of lights below

Mine is not the only candle lit

For Hekate.
Yes,

Were She to, with a wave of Her hand,

Snuff the brilliant plumage of the Strip,

And Downtown’s yellow-white gleaming,

Were She then to shut down the straggler lights of Summerlin,

Of North Las Vegas,

And leave only candles lit for Gods

The valley floor would at first lie black as the ring of mountains

Before Apollo brings them forth with the morning.

The valley floor would at first lie black,

But in time the eyes would focus, and soon make out

Pricks of light, only several, but definite.

Scattered, and yet a gathering,

Witness to the returning of the time.

It is growing warmer down the slope.

We descend from winter toward spring.

But now two fingers on my right hand are struck cold.

Cold has climbed up my knuckles,

Till taking fingernail to lips, I find it ice.

I remind myself of my good health

Yet can not not ask,
Which does this mean?

Stroke or heart attack?

No. It is that She has taken my hand.

She who comes and goes in dread.

I am honored.
I will choose something fine tomorrow

To set before the purple candle.

Io Hekate, Daughter of Night

Ahead, three roads crossing, and She knows the steepest way.

Io Hekate, Daughter of Night

Priced steep is Her wisdom, and only the hard can pay.

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