palinode for the year we did not touch

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perhaps there is no villain, no antagonist, no foil
for my reflection, no bad guy, no butcher, no sea
witch, no serpent, no god with flame for a crown
or bladed teeth, no gunman, no genius, no jaded
father banging his chest, no monster, no Nazi, no
half-dead, no skinner, no poacher, no vindictive
nurse, no Gollum, no Joker, no man, no man, no
man in a mask with a knife, no knife, no cut,
nothing left to clean or to cleave from the wound.

self-portrait as Fat Medusa in conversation with Poseidon’s wife

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lair where i was laid and parsed, now screened: gardenesque,
damiana leaves dripped from a wrought gold ceiling rod, rust
and stain removed from the campus carpet. still, my scent—
my patchouli and cumin, tarragon and orange blossom, odor
of woman and girl. do you see me? a serpent scaled in onyx bound
to my throat as a choker, a single snake braiding down my back.
and you, fellow Gorgon, sister by any other name, an awful shade
of green. perhaps i am offering for you to touch the snake, its split
tongue across my fingertips, or perhaps it is trying to touch you,
ask you: what do you do in your powerlessness, Amphitrite? what governable
sea spirits your sleep? do you know, that if not for the knife, i could be less
brick, less ember, less edge of the precipice and at times, it is your white
knuckle in my memory, it is your hair falling around my face.
you are not a forgivable god, yet what i remember most is your familiar
shudder when i confessed he called me baby love before the silver flash,
how you turned your face to the ground as i described the scent of his skin.


note: In Greek mythology, Medusa is raped by Poseidon on the steps of Athena’s temple.

american sonnet [i made, of my bones, an earth for you]

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with lines borrowed from Christina Rossetti’s “Monna Innominata Sonnet V”

i made, of my bones, an earth for you: turned the oceans
your favorite shade of light, that deepened, nearly bruised
dusk. reflected in my palms, what i’ve made into water
glows amethyst; when you drink from it, you are iridescent,
luminous, lilting. i am metallic, meticulous in the way
i pronounce your full name, watch you watch the world.
i have quieted galaxies for this moment, hushed the moral pleading,
called the caged animal in from the ark. today, tomorrow, world with-
out an end; to love you much and yet to love you more, to want
to hold your body to mine as midnight settles in the jasmine trees.
and, by light of our stars, make water for tea gathered from the garden,
read from Lorde in the living room, dance to Whitney in the hall;
lie with our legs laced together in our bedclothes and watch,
quietly, knowingly, for our moon’s sweeping, predictable fall.

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