How can I say what happened there? Stripped
of the elegant hands, the black webs
churning air—when I prayed I would be
carried off, the heaven I imagined
held us both, smooth-limbed & honey-fed.
Instead he arrived inside the monstrous
hull of a body, alien without
the weight of water to buoy its thrashing
wingbeat, ridiculous waddle
replacing the long strides across the field
I dreamed would save me from the misery
of dwelling here inside this worthless flesh,
these fears & doubts, the mind that will not stop
remembering the list of words that bear
two sides like coins tossed in the air:
an invocation is a prayer & summoning;
to be ravishing means one enchants
but when she is ravished she is seized
by force; to cleave means to adhere with faith
as well as to split open. Fuck you, Zeus.
You knew exactly what I meant.
Vanessa Stauffer holds MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Houston. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Geist, and West Branch, and her chapbook, Cosmology, is available from dancing girl press. She currently teaches writing and literature at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.