Girl Singing: I carry Gilgamesh in my belly,
oxen herding my song
without a hen, the chicks run
distracted through the grass
go about the house pecking at planks.
I heavy as a hog sit at last in the
boat of the west
must treasure the dream whatever the terror
go to the barn with or without fear where
despair waits: your ewes shall drop
twins and your goats triplets
all newly cleaned and neatly arranged for the flood.
He who engraved on a stone the whole story
sank it in the sluices while
I simply moaned:
tear down your house and build a boat
drones at the hive
your stormy heart beating twice for mine
dark and darker before a mist of
sleep like soft wool teased from a sheep
gets stuck in my throat.
smallest of swamp flies,
opens its eyes
opens its thighs
only say, there is no permanence
to make me rise. Let me live to be the
wonder of my mother. I sing like ten curs
under a ring of cedars pining
for the Faraway nearer than a breath.
(By and © Sasha Steensen)
[Note: Sasha writes: “The Secret Life of an Angel” reminds me of Gilgamesh, perhaps because of “Babaylan. ” “Babaylan” reminds me of the “baby” I currently carry. She pokes       & insists on herself, which reminds me of Gilgamesh. They both want to live forever.
1.Start with the same number of stanzas and lines as “The Secret Life of an Angel.”
2.Retain the first letter of each line from “The Secret Life of an Angel.”
3.For each stanza, borrow one line from The Epic of Gilgamesh (Trans. N.K. Sandars).
4.Borrowed lines can begin a line, start in the middle of a line, be contained within one line and/or be enjambed.
5.First and last lines of the poem retain words or phrases from both The Epic of Gilgamesh and “The Secret Life of an Angel.”
List of borrowed lines:
Stanza 1 (first line): “Girl Singing” from “The Secret Life of an Angel” and “Gilgamesh” from The Epic of Gilgamesh
Stanza 2: “the chicks.../…grass”
Stanza 3: “sit…/…west”
Stanza 4: “we/…terror”
Stanza 5: “your…/…triplets”
Stanza 6: “he…story”
Stanza 7: “tear…boat”
Stanza 8: “a mist…/…sheep”
Stanza 9: “smallest…flies”
Stanza 10: “there…permanence”
Stanza 11: “Let…/…mother.”
Stanza 12 (last line): “the Faraway” from The Epic of Gilgamesh and “nearer than a breath” from “The Secret Life of an Angel”]