The Lorelei Signal


Questions for the Oracle

Written by Lorraine Schein / Artwork by Marge Simon

Questions for the Oracle.jpeg

Damn Apollo and Athena, those glare-loving Greek icons,

Why are they worshipped everywhere here at their white,

Broken-toothed temples under this too-bright sun?


And Delphi—broken marble of wisdom’s site.

Why is the air above these ruins

Stacked light above light above light?


Our guide from Alexandria (sunglass-sheathed, Apollonian),

Points to an ancient inscription, giving one well-paying Greek city,

Rights to ask the first question.


The Germans and Japanese arrive next to sightsee,

Speaking in their harsh languages that intrude with the rest

On the silence of this shattered temple, on each tour’s itinerary.


My gods are Artemis, and Hermes, my ruler. They’re the wiliest—   

Too fast to be prayed to, unmappable blurs,

Moon-bordered huntress, untempled, light-fingered bicyclist.


Just like then, we must still pay to get answers.

But why do I keep hearing bees in flight?

How many more steps to the priestesses’ underground chamber?


The bees say to me: your answers lie buried on these heights.

They say: learn, from these remnants of the Mysteries,

That history is a sibyl prophesying the loss of her sight.

Originally published in Vallum, 2010


Lorraine Schein is a New York writer. Her work has appeared in VICE Terraform, Strange Horizons, Enchanted Conversation, NewMyths, and Little Blue Marble, and in the anthology Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana del Rey & Sylvia Plath. The Futurist’s Mistress, her poetry book, is available from Mayapple Press: