Forgiving Willow


I carved a cobra walking cane

From diamond willow wood;

The willow’s fluted edges feign

A cobra’s flaring hood.

And though it had a spongy pith

And plies of tricky grain,

When sanded well and coated with

A polyurethane,

My willow carving seemed to glow

With bands of golden wood,

And no one ’round me seemed to know

I’m really not that good.


I was walking along a path through the woods in the middle of the night on the way to my deacon’s house. I didn’t want to wake him up at such a late hour, but I really needed to talk to him about my¬† wife, and the feelings I was having. The grief that had enshrouded me since her sudden death was turning to anger. I didn’t know why or how to deal with it; I was hoping he could help me.

Deep in the woods, under a pale moon, I suddenly came upon three white-robed figures. As I got closer, I could see they were holding a spindle, a measuring stick, and shears; I knew they were the Fates.

At first I was afraid, but then the anger surfaced again, and I went right up to Atropos with her shears and asked,”Why did you have to cut my wife’s thread of life so short?”

“I can only cut the thread as long as it’s been measured,” came her reply, with just the slightest hint of compassion in her voice.

So I turned to Lachesis, and said, “Why did you measure her life-thread so short?”

“I can only measure out the length of thread given to me.” I thought I could hear pity in her words.

So then I turned to their sister Clotho, the spinner, and before I could say anything, she held up her spindle, and, with neither compassion nor pity, she said, “Even Gods and Goddesses cannot deny their destiny.”

I knew she was right, so I went home and let the deacon sleep.