Thursday, April 24, 2014

Matters of Perspective

Reply to Perseus (with apologies to Ovid and a nod towards Jane Campion)

Wise Athena, we have heard the boasting
Tale from Perseus and his champions. Now
Tell us how you earned those bloodstains
Streaking your hot flesh from neck to heel.
And so began a tale from which we all
May learn to see things differently. It came
Not from her memory alone – always
A shaky matter when it comes to truth –
But from a deeper and a wider place.
Thus she spoke:
I’ll tell you how they died, those long-locked ones,
Tricked by slick imposter into losing
Their fine heads, how I survived, a witness
and a mourner of these scenes.
At once he caught my eye and lured it deep
Into his shadows, took me down into
His hide-out underneath the city’s mass.
What caught my eye was that tattoo, the 3
Of spades, which I at first misread, seeing
Only sex – (I am no virgin, truth to tell) –
And not the mark of death I later read,
(How could I know there was a living twin?)
My sister’s eye was caught by the white stone
Emblazoned on the ring with which his sword
Was offered, dazzling her with mirrored dreams
And age-old fantasies she thought they shared.
He made me gaze at his first victim’s head.
He couldn’t look me in the eye but tried
To trap the image of my horror in
The rear-view mirror of his car. So sad
A sight, her hair matted with blood. I could
Not see her face, but her hair reminded
Me of my sister’s lovely, long blonde curls
They twirled around her neck (it was a lock,
Oh, torn roughly from that darling head which
First told me she was dead, beloved Medusa).
His hand caught up that tumbling hair to show
Me how she feasted on his rod, not knowing
She was hooked and he was bait. I did not
Look away, felt my desire rise and tug
That inward eye which held me fixed. It made
Me dream of kisses. He dreamed instead of snake-filled pits.
When later I asked how she died and was
It quick, another tattooed man – who I
Would take to be my lover – spoke in tender
Words of epiglottis, sinew, muscle,
Bone, the detailed mass of flesh resisting
Severance. He knew how much it took to
Break the bond with life, he knew of necks
That wanted to be kissed. In my mind I still
Cradle my beloved sister’s head, still
Stroke her tangled hair with tender fingers.
Remembrances of love and a grief there
Is no cure for, guide my steps to death’s dark shore…
He took me to the lighthouse, I thought he
Was my rescuer, that he would vanquish
The monster I had chained and fled, but I,
Too late, saw he was the monster, that
He’d been within the circle of my life,
Just as he’d carved his circle in the ice
Of my own mother’s frigid innocence.
Cursed Bluebeard! Plotting to make me his
Latest wife. My eyes filled with tears as I
Thought again of my poor sister. And of
My throat stretched in fearful recognition
From that same knife. Inwardly again I
Saw my mother, beautiful of course, like
Her two dancing daughters, how she fell for
Father’s kisses, how I would not do the same.
And then from my own hand a double shot
Rang out. The monstrous beast collapsed.
I looked into the star filled sky and saw the light
Fall onto the waves that shine and lap in
Brilliant tips in view of new beginnings
.