Oracle by Margot Douaihy


Margot Douaihy ( is a poet and technology writer living in New Orleans. She is co-director of the QYP Writing Center at the Studio at Colton and was a Poet-in-Residence the Montana Artists Refuge in Basin, Montana. Douaihy has been a guest lecturer of writing at Johns Hopkins University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, and The New School University.



I touch it as he talks, my chin.
It's small, like the bell of a tulip or fig
rotting at the base of a tree.
He's like the rest who come to Delphi,
not for me, but with questions,
from Parnassus and Thrace, Korinth
and Cyprus, the darker their skin
the longer their journey.
They don't see me inside
this column of vapor.
They don't care what I look like.
They want only my voice.
My mouth is a cave behind a waterfall,
invisible, except to someone
who needs hiding.
They ask me how to win battles,
stretch empires. What strategies?
Which weapons? How to mend
the ship's wood hull, weak as the ribs
of a man thrown from a horse.
They need war, these men I want
to unfold like maps on cold marble.
Bring almonds, bring figs,
bring red wine in clay bowls.
Harp strings are so close, yet so far.
Agamemnon says
he closed his eyes
as he pulled a blade deep
from the meat of his thigh.
Veins in his temple
harden into spiny thistle.
Wires of bay leaves burn
near his bare feet.
I'm tired of talking.
I want to be quiet as mud,
the dirt of a village razed
changing the map.
One day, the map I will help you write
will destroy me,
the way lines on a face trace
years of laughter,
and also predict death.