Letters Between Medusa & Poseidon
I. Medusa’s Hunger
What you remind me: I’ve heard these stories
before—men who part waves, multiply fish.
A flood of thoughts hiss, dissonant, as if
my head brims with the water where we met.
Have you wondered whom you could be with me?
Admittedly, I have imagined two
futures bound, though the space for my pair’s face
sat blank as a page. But now that we’ve met,
my mind veneers yours to hopes so hopeless,
I’ve rarely ever dared to humor them.
Is it possible a person can heal
a leper through just a single touch, can
prevent the sea’s crests from overwhelming,
can feed this famine from a single fry?
II. Poseidon’s Thirst
The question is, how close will you permit
me to approach? You’re a cage for yourself,
and you’d stay there if I let you. I’ve known
birds like you before, tried my serenades
to charm you out of that place and into
my arms. You claim that you’re gripped by the thought
of some version of love, yet you’ve forged space
so far from me, I fear my hands can’t reach
past these rungs to touch you or even toss
you more than a crumb. And how can I save
you from any swell when I’m locked outside
your gate? It’s lonely here, a desert so
thirsty it can only think of water.
Is it so wrong to long for just a sip?
III. Medusa’s Dilemma
What the sea reminds me:
Desires are like sand—
crude intruders in a day’s flow
that stack and stack
until their weight suffocates.
I don’t know what to do
when I’m near you besides
steep silently, slide your hands
away from my skin
when we come in
from the swim.
I’ve wished I could take
your mind off the water,
its tongues tracing all
the places you wish to be.
I’ve filled your ears
with my best tunes, but you
continue circling my body,
its salt and scents. I know
what you imagine
with me, but the thought
burns me raw—grains abrading
the luster of the image
of you I worship.
Can there be
no such thing
as love between
us without that?
- Deja Samuel
V: Medusa’s Lesson
What desert reminds me:
Secrets can hide from outsiders,
but not from my body—
its curves consumed by sand,
heels up to thighs, back,
and clinging sweaty to my neck.
What if I say more:
Cows don’t know
they’re fed fat
will forget them.
This knowledge won’t change
the patchwork of hide
and land that cloaks daily affairs
like the quilt you lie
over not under us, gnats
swimming in our humidity.
What desert reminds me:
Secrets can hide from outsiders.
But for how long? The hurts my mouth
blurts betray but don’t end your quest;
the sand is shadowing, turning a bolder
version of itself; you’re bolstered over
me, stained by sweat, sun, dusty stalks
of electrified straw. The sun falls and all
I can do is try to find something sharper
than the pain. Clouds above unravel
sky like hides ripped, revealing the red
of an animal I can’t name.
After, I sit in a tub
with no water.
Then I sit on a porch.
It’s morning once more.
A herd speaks from the distance.
Too far to see.
The land remembers its lot and feeds it.
The land remembers its purpose, continues
to break beneath teeth.
VI: Poseidon’s Recoil
forget about me
your hands can’t trap
this unbridled tide
anything between us
like water flees fingers
like a word spoken
erases from space
to make way for others
to be your waste
Medusa’s Note From the Nadir
No savior awaits. These men are predators,
and every girl, doomed to be consumed by their smoke and mirrors.
I’m testing the edges of shards with my hand,
guessing the distance between cold silver, steaming red.
My life’s been a feast of smoke and mirrors.
Best to slice through that meat with my own hand,
put some distance between real and pretend
now that I know the hero I sought will never reach me, doesn’t exist.
Can I cut through illusion with my own two hands
as swiftly and easily as my head sopped up what he fed?
I’m certain the dream I chased never existed;
there is no great epiphany.
Yet my head still ingested what he fed.
What can you do when part of the problem is you?
You’d think there’d be some epiphany,
that the equation could be worked out in one’s head,
but there’s nothing you can do when the problem is you.
Can you solve that problem with your head?
Can you solve that problem in your head?
Try to solve any problem in your head
when the root of the problem is you.
No savior awaits. These men are all the same.
That problem lives in and beyond my brain.
So thank goodness for sharp shards, steadfast hands.
Raegen Pietrucha (author of Head of a Gorgon, forthcoming in 2022 through Vegetarian Alcoholic Press) writes and edits for a living. She also writes and edits for fun, which once prompted a relative to tell her that maybe she needed to diversify her hobbies. So she rebuilt the She-Ra collection she lost in a childhood move. And continued writing and editing. That showed them.