Philomela’s Threads

I am confined where staircases end

with silent looms and tongue-like yarns

unable to knot themselves into words.

My anguish embroidered in

every silken strand, rage

and shame in every dark hue.

A story framed by frosted landscapes,

twisted trees and shivering birds,

the biting snap of loneliness.

Sometimes, slantwise, I glimpse a scrap of view

cut at angles by crumbling turrets;

a tilted horizon of dismembered heads

shadowed by the rush of raven and far

below the tiny tangled skein of path

joining field to field with uneven seam.

In my head the rattle of bobbins, jittery fingers

struggle with warp and weft, the tension

slipping - too many loose ends.

Scissors mirror me back, my pattern

is lost, a thousand threads unravelling

to a tangled mess of nooses.

Tina Cole

King Tereus desired his sister-in-law Philomela. He had her sent to Thrace where he raped her, cut her tongue out and imprisoned her in a tower. There she wove a tapestry which revealed his crimes.