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oracle of delphi

~~a villanelle~~

Do you recall the lessons of Delphi
when they trained us to sit as oracle?
Ignore the stink, the side, and gimlet eye,

the ageless priestess warned. The more you try
to please, the less the vapours will supply.
Do you recall the lessons of Delphi?

To know yourself as selves, to multiply,
slip free and clear from every manacle,
ignore the stink, the side, and gimlet eye.

Who shame, exclude, clamour against, or cry
to gods, cannot perceive the miracle.
Do you recall the lessons of Delphi,

trusting all that lives has a time set by,
free and whole, without pain or debacle?
Ignore the stink, the side, and gimlet eye

so Apollo, through you, can prophecy
and reflect anew the historical.
Do you recall the lessons of Delphi?
Ignore the stink, the side, and gimlet eye.

~~~

I’d been thinking about the phrase “gimlet eye” recently but never really knew the meaning of gimlet, apart from a drink made of lime juice and gin. Turns out, it’s also a tool with a cross handle, grooved shank, and screw point. The gimlet eye bores holes through its object of attention, a variation on the age-old evil eye. Given the skill of ancient Greek sculptors, I have no reason to disbelieve they had their own version of gimlets.

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

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