Oh, the madness of a woman on a quest –
setting forth, to be mocked or burnt.
We do not quest. We are the quest –
my body the chalice, my body the grail.

I worm my way into the story, my belly
the cauldron, my lips temptation,
my virtue is my weakness,

my weakness is my virtue.

My strength is disregarded –
the strength of bearing –
the weight of the child on my hip,
the weight of my own breasts
feeding the world,
my belly

the cauldron

deep magic in the deep cavern
of my body.

Wake me. I’ve been sleeping
for a hundred years now. Chase me
down the wide marble stairs,
recognise me by the thing you gave me –
the ring you slipped on my finger –
not by my face voice hands hips.

Ask me what I want.
Ask me, Gawain. Ask me again.
I’ll tell you: I want sovereignty –
not over you, over my own body,
my voice, my thoughts, my choices.

Oh yes, the madness of a woman on a quest –
walking alone among the high rocks,
through the dark forest,
carrying her banner
stitched with her own name.

Brendan at EarthwealΒ  is taking us on a quest. Last week we established who our heroes are. This week we’re thinking about the quest itself.

10 thoughts on “Quest

  1. This is SPECTACULAR. You always wow me. Best thing I’ve read in a while. I love it. I used to do a feature called Poem of the Week. If I still was, this would be it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your quest is stunning, Sarah! I love all of it! I especially love the way you isolated the lines at the centre:
    β€˜deep magic in the deep cavern
    of my body’
    and the ending is sublime.


  3. I find it fascinating that so many of the responses to this week’s challenge have taken up the woman’s gauntlet and so forcefully and eloquently offered their bodies, their femininity and its oppression as Grail. The Grail stories seem to reflect the odd old gleam of the fertility cults of the Goddess; there’s something savagely sexual about them, albeit draped in courtly accoutrement. (Monks of the seventh and eighth centuries wrote down much of the old Gaelic oral literature in like manner.) I encountered the Grail stories first in the light of my old sexual adventuring — that quest in rudest pantomine by a bottle, a bed and a one-night-queen — Something essentially true there, the history of the species is imprinted deep in the psyche, and we live out the myths in our slow and long mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual development. The actual adventures long put to rest, I wrote the metaphors of that quest in poetry, finding depth and strength. And though I wrote deeply about that sexual quest, years later I now come to delve deeper and wonder about the primal energies of the solar hero Gawain and the nature of the Fisher King’s wound, about the vast womblike forest of the feminine and what is wrested from or invested in the Perilous Chapel. It’s more than the sexual though its metaphors remain useful. In my own mythology, Columba wrested something from Oran, building a Christian empire on pagan soil; yet the vanquished is the rootstock and slowly growing depth which a failing Christian edifice these days must turn to and transform itself. Thus Columba goes down in the soil and Oran builds forth; and so the ancient feminine mysteries are what emerge stronger and vital. Else our world die. Sorry to go on forever here but your poem is that sort of victory cry, a voice from the grave which cries, like Oran, the way we think it is is not the way it is at all. Keep up the great work — Brendan

    Liked by 1 person

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