Posts Tagged ‘Siberia’

The Mother Remembers

The Mother Remembers

One thing you must never do is call a girl standing in or near the water by name, for that is like delivering a written invitation to the water king to steal your loved one.
—from “The Maiden Rescued by the Moon,” a Siberian myth, in The World’s Greatest Nature Myths by Gary Ferguson

I didn’t mean to call her name so loud.
Of course I was angry. The girl
was always so slow about her chores
and there was always so much to do.
Our wooden pail was emptied of water again
and the sun had nearly disappeared
beneath the Arctic Ocean waves.
Oh I wanted to smack her with that ladle,
I did, but I handed it to her instead.
“Now go, daughter, go get the water,” I said,
“and mind you come back soon.”
She always was a dreamy thing,
staring off into the surf
as if there were another place
that she would rather be.
On that last night we were together,
I had just finished stitching her
a new wool dress, blue as the deepest swells.
I wanted to give it to her by the fire.
Why did she stay so long by the shore
before coming back with the bucket full?
It was in anger, yes, when I called her name
to bring her out of her reverie,
but there was more. The water king took no time
to snag her from the shore with his long,
cold arms. “The ladle, daughter, the ladle!”
I cried, and she reached
it as high as she could and caught it
on a bush on the moon.
How strangely beautiful she looked, dangling there
as the moon made its trek toward the heavens.
On clear nights I can see her in the sky,
the ladle still in her hand.
How alone I am with this blue dress.
I stare at it now so long sometimes
it might be hours before I move
to fill the bucket with water.

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