The images in this poem were inspired by Goethe’s “Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily,” a mysterious story with great archetypal resonance. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to ponder such mysteries — nothing is more wondrous than the power to gestate, bear and bring forth new life, after all. To be a humble participant in this wonder, as both child and mother, is the greatest privilege I know.
from Sanskrit mātṛ’, a measurer;
one who measures across or traverses;
a knower, one who has true knowledge
She is a bridge, a green snake
turned to gold. She carries you
from shore to shore, measuring
distances between worlds.
She bears your weight, stretching across
the empty air with radical trust,
not knowing how this works, nor why
the span stays up. She did not build herself.
For she is the knowledge, the building
buried in the earth, unseen
except by bodies filled with light.
She waits for the temple to rise.
She is sacrifice
and hope. She hopes that you
will reach your journey’s end, although
she cannot walk with you.
Yet legless she walks, eyeless sees, encompassing all
in her great ring, the arch made whole,
reflected in you as in the river
when rushing waters are stilled.