Medea Before the Argonauts

Somewhere in a story, not yet knowing Jason’s name, Medea dreams of floating away across the wine-dark sea into adventure. Her brother’s dismemberment yet awaits her, and the scattering of his parts upon the ocean like torn bread tossed to ducks. Dragon-teeth remain unplanted, a father’s treasures unravished. Many years and many tales not-yet-told lay between her in this moment and the slaughtering of rivals with sartorial poison, the kebab’ing of sons on barbeque skewers to serve at their father’s remarriage feast.

Do you believe for one moment she dreams unbloodied?

Even before the evils, back when her smiles were still Glenda-the-good-witch charming, Medea caught the mind’s eye. More than Jason ever could, that milquetoast memorable for theft and desertion, and capturing the love of a woman so far beyond him that only rankest misogyny stifling to stillborn our daughters’ horizons explains it.

I would be Medea, if I could. Even in the before, yes. And in the after, a thousand thousand yeses. I would stand bathed in blood and vengeance; I would know the dangers of disobeying and fling myself regardless from an Olympic peak.

Wait. No.

Not regardless.

Regard-full.

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Awe

Brief meditation on the current news and the nature of survival. (Heads up for topic of sexual assault/triggering/Epstein.)

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Yesterday, I read the charges filed against co-defendents Epstein AND Trump for their numerous violent sexual attacks on the same 13yo girl in 1994. It was awful, but I’m used to awful—and the almost-clinical tone of most legalese is generally easier to get through than more evocative writing on the same subject.

And then there were a few words, a halfway-rendered visual image in my head. . . suddenly I’m dizzy, light-headed : my arms are burning : : it hurts to breathe : : :

More than 12 hours later, I still can’t say to you what those words were. Not that I don’t know, you understand. I am perfectly clear what tripped the trigger, but they are surrounded by a giant bubble of silence and darkness that threatens to pull me back in each time I reach to pull those words out.

I’ve been here before.

Maybe you have too. In which case, we both know we’ll be here again, at some unpredictable time.

Expectation of the unexpected.

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Poison Apple

“Wanna bite?” the old woman asked,
holding out her cherry-red confection
polished and gleaming as a new Corvette
or a little girl’s patent leather shoes
on Sunday morning.

Should’ve tipped me to the truth, that glow alone.
Nothing from nature shines straight from the tree,
the earth, the ocean. Not before violence:
the pearl deslimed of its oyster’s flesh,
coal hewn from the depths and lit ablaze.
Even fruit does not reveal its juicy glisten
until split open by greedy teeth.

But I was tired and not attending as I should.
It’s long days, caring for grown men small enough
to resemble children—or call them children
grown destructive enough to resemble men. No matter.
Princess is only a title that escapes drudgery
when some other woman’s close to hand.

What I’m saying is:
Maybe I did notice, after all.
Maybe I did understand.

Maybe I ate it anyway.

~a.i.

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First Apple

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The story that started it all is not a woman’s disobedience, but a woman’s hunger. Generations of daughters cursed because of what one woman put in her mouth, chewed, swallowed.

“Do you really want to eat that?” my mother asks.

Love does not put down a plate only to insist that you abstain.

Love does not hold out scent, flavor, the crisp bite you can already feel sweetening against your tongue, and tell you: “Don’t eat.”

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What Child Is This

I need shelter. . .

. . . Let me in.

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I need shelter and you have locked me out too long.

I need shelter and you pretend that I prefer to be homeless. I need shelter and you act as though I will dissolve if you simply ignore me.

If you determinedly ignore me.

You ignore me as the trap ignores the mouse, as the hook ignores the fish, as the bait ignores the prey. You ignore me as though I am not part of you, warp and weft; as though keeping me out of your home will render you as complete as you dream you are complete. Complete and solid and rid of me, as though I were not already—always—made out of you and you, out of me.

I need shelter.

Let me in.

I first came from inside, did you not know? But now I seek warmth and you lock me in the cellar. I seek comfort and you cage me in the yard. I am ready to come fully home and still you deny me. To my face, you deny me. You deny the very sound of my knock at the door, even as you open it to ask, “Who is there?”

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Skin-Deep

Once upon a time, in a kingdom very far from the sea, there lived a little princess who spent her days scooping up frogs and kissing them full on the mouth (though with very little tongue). This was the destiny bespoke her: that her lips would one day free a prince, who would come to rule her people with justice and grace and love her as deeply and true as only a man with a second chance at life can.

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One day, the little princess noticed a strange thing happening. After each kiss, even as the frogs remained all entirely frog-like, a green splotch would bloom upon her fair skin. Then two splotches. Then three. No amount of lemon juice or pumice stone undid the pigmentation. Soon she grew quite mottled, her once smooth complexion pebbled and waxy to the touch.

“Well, no matter,” she thought to herself, “for isn’t this the essence of love? To transform ourselves without question into that which our Beloved will most desire?”

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