Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Homeric Greek by Denise Low

Helios Gives His Son
an (Unheeded) Star Map

“If you must drive my fiery chariot,” said Helios,
“here is what to expect: a circling zodiac
of constellations, divided into twelve parts.

Around this circuit meander planets
each a god, each with its own cycle—
Cronus the slowest, moving thirty degrees

in two-plus years. Moon takes one month
to go the same distance. Cronus is outermost,
then Zeus circles the Zodiac in a long year.

Red-burning Ares strides through the houses.
Next I, Sun, like a planet, course the skies
never backwards, only forward like time.

Each quarter of the Zodiac is a season,
each in turn, spring to winter, invariable.
Moon measures months, I the Earth’s year.

Most perilous is the tipping point,
the shadowy nadir of the year, solstice.
Most distracting are inner planets.

Hold steady through the Zodiac’s road.
Stay in place, no matter the comets and flares.
Don’t rush. Finish each house’s degrees.”

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