Waiting for Atropos

A basket-flower seed’s silken suspension


 In Greek and Roman mythology, three goddesses known as the Fates, or Moirai, determined the span of individual lives.

From the time of the poet Hesiod in the 8th century, the Fates were personified as old women. Clotho (whose name means “Spinner”) spun out the thread of human life; Lachesis (“Allotter”) dispensed the thread; and Atropos (“Inflexible”) cut the thread in order to determine an individual’s moment of death.

This basket-flower seed captured by a strand of spider silk brought Atropos to mind, and it amused me to think of the frustration she might have experienced had she attempted to expand her powers to the natural world. Clipped by her shears and freed to drop to the ground, the seed might well have taken root, allowing life, not death, to be the result.

Even the Fates, it seems, can’t control everything.

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