All stories are her. The paintings: Carravaggio, Rubens. Even poets gagged her in black. Poseidon’s first pick, she wasn’t so hideous. Though when I heard the nails hot against stone, I couldn’t face the bait: I’d rather give pain than take. If I’d come as rescue, what would have come of me? Mortality is clumsy & stiff. I was cursed the same: brass claws, boar tusk fangs, hide of scales, & yes— the snakes, seared to my skull. I never turned such heads nor hunted by admirers yet men win the game of wounded things. A toast to the drop of the damaged
blood— yes, it’s easy to skin a rabbit already trapped. Is this why men cry monster? History is always, has always been their book. She was dead before she died, how a serpent writhes
without its skull. A thrashing, a death rattle, milky venom spilled. What is there left to paint with? Don’t accuse me of coming here to boast, to gaze back and howl in relief. It wasn’t me.
It was almost me.