Understudy

      Sick too many days and nights, in
and out of hospitals before her seventh
      birthday: so after taking counsel, 
the women in the household lit their candles,
      poured their oil and blessed 
waters into a bowl. Chanting around the bed,
      they fashioned for her another name:
disfigured, unmusical, difficult to pronounce.
      This name limped with her through
the house, embroidered its odd syllables 
      on her towel and pillowcase.  
And the gods, confused, finally left through
      the open windows to find some fairer
child on whom to lavish their dark affections. 
 

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