Daphne

by Faye George

for Robert Graves

Unsure of her own nature, she cried out

to her father, the river, to save her

from the ardent god’s intent. Great as her fear

of the god’s raw pursuit, her own self-doubt.

slowed her step, dogged to the brink

where she must perish or yield—or,

barring the choice, alter herself.

The blood drained from her limbs where she stood,

pale as mist blown from the river’s mouth.

Her bruised feet, punished from the hard passage,

welcomed the cool smooth mud of the bank.

In and in, she sank until she felt

something rising in her like breath,

a voice softer than the purling river.

It knew her name. Lifting her head,

she found herself on her own ground now

before a baffled god, amazed at the shape

of his changed woman