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?

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- Deja Samuel

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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

 

for slaughter. 

Their calves 

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

 

Best forget 

   what’s happened

forget about me

   your hands can’t trap

this unbridled tide 

   unleashed inside 

anything between us 

   has passed 

like water flees fingers

   like a word spoken 

erases from space 

   to make way for others 

find another 

   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.

 

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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.