A scalding of water follows
          her daughters like a funeral’s
               family car, tears trailing desolate
                    skid-marks laid there by squealing wheels


     barreling through abandoned parking lots,
          through tired and torn veils of morning
               air, crackling choruses of hymens worn
                    thin by men confusing their talent with


     a gift, sculptors’ hands abusing
          beauty, chiseling from pink throats
               songs dawn conjures for those whose parched hearts thirst
                    to know and be shown the way to


     where blood of martyrs hits unconquered stone,
          to go forth by day until its
               hope breaks into shadow, bowing
                    again in the ancient place pagan earth


     and Christian bone twist in embrace,
          bodies reverencing nature
               where enemies have been kissing ever
                    since god’s creation to kick up a mist


     of petrichor, still pungent and
          fresh, some common sense coming in
               after ending reigns, scenting silence, what
                    she wants more than the faint consolation


     of its fragrance is to feel how
          hard the magnificence of his
               column has fallen, to impart to them
                    what notorious art for too long her


     husband’s reticence kept concealed
          from them, a mage’s widow their
               matriarch, calling on strange cats clawing
                    blood pacts into shapeless things she


     gives names, unfamiliar shades her
          voice trains to raise from indifferent graves
               their motorcade traces over as its
                    mourners pace through veins pulses of


     memory carve, arteries crawling up
          ladder rungs of centuries, re-purposed
               to serve new mistresses for yet
                    another eternity, curing them


     first of her little girls’ crippling
          malady, the worst part of tragedy
               that it plays nurse to babes whose curse
                    is not to bleed, but weep and worry for


     every crisis or crime otherwise
          averted by the magic of
               words, charms inverting language, lines turning
                    tides and heads when those three graces


     recite profane phrases belief
          makes sacred, sayings a mother knows bring
               about changes, foregoing the droning
                    pall of a palindrome drowning


     out love’s whispers before they can fill her
          home, translation making clearer
               for them all the meaning of his leaving:
                    “You are are our father, protect us from fear.”

Notate Bene:
☞ The title is taken from an ancient palindrome often found on several specimens of Greek magical papyri and amulets, where it frequently, although not exclusively, appears written as a diminishing phrase; that is, a spell reduced one-letter-at-a-time per line, resulting in an inverted triangular form of text, reminiscent of an early form of concrete poem. It is almost always accompanied by the depiction of an armed spirit with serpents for legs, similar to its better-known cousin, the famous Abraxas amulets, which were crafted for similar occult purposes. The meaning of the word Ablanathanalba is noted by Claude Lecouteux in his Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells, translated by Jon E. Graham and published at Rochester, Vermont by Inner Traditions in 2015, on page 6, as: “You are our father.” According to Lecouteux, its purpose then, and whenever written in this form since, is to protect the bearer from fear.