Author: Melissa Dickson

I do not admire Perseus for killing one woman, in her bridal dress still breathing of love. 

He shook in his hand the deadly face of Medousa, and turned armed Ariadne into stone.

                                                           ~ Nonnus, from the Dionysiaca

 

A nectared thread in the maze
…………and a cask of bees at the dread end of everything,
…………there was honey enough, and love enough, and enough
–strange, vast word–enough.
…………………………………But I tell you, that’s how it was, enough
…………………………………of any one thing: immense fruitful fields,
…………………………………vineyards, olives so heavy on the branch
…………..the limbs seemed to bow like actors halted
…………..on stage. It was always this way. We drank
and we ate. We made love between courses.
……….If we thought of scarcity, it was another’s
trouble, never our own. We had the grace
……………………………to wish them well, to offer a pear
……………………………for the journey, and the grace, too, to forget
………………..them as soon as the road bent beyond our sight.
……We managed our joy, never questioned our right to it,
……never thought one half of everything was nothing at all.

Very well!’ he taunted, `If you rate my thanks so low, accept a gift!’ and turned his face away and on his left held out the loathsome head, Medusa’s head. Atlas, so huge, became a mountain; beard and hair were changed to forests, shoulders were cliffs, hands ridges; where his head had lately been, the soaring summit rose; his bones were turned to stone. Then each part grew beyond all measure (so the gods ordained) and on his shoulders rested the whole vault of heaven with all the innumerable stars.

~ Metamorphoses, Ovid

 

It wasn’t the weight of the world or anything

like it. It was the weightless space between,

the nothing, the void, the days of waiting

and longing that bore down on him

like so many burning stars. The planets

wove their weary circles, the dust fell

together and fluttered apart.

He was a pillar without a monument,

the Aegean emptied and yearning.

He held his arms up in despair, his hands

barren, his feet numb and aching and always

the night fell between his outstretched

fingers, dark and beyond touch.

She thinks she will stay here all day,

her book hidden under a nylon blend napkin.

 

The vat of chicken livers is hourly restored;

the iced tea mercifully unending.

 

There is cake. There are coconut macaroons

and a perpetual chocolate fountain.

 

She thinks this is enough.

Enough to still the fluttering

 

at the base of her tongue. Enough

to feed all Zeus’s hungry issue.

 

In the kitchen, Prometheus robes the bones

in glistening fat, and Midas surveys

 

the squash casserole, the catfish crisp

and banked in careful knolls, the yeast rolls

 

soft as pillows and sweet as sleep.