Leda

Even the blind said I was beautiful—

on that all men could agree—

I had something I did not understand,

a possession I certainly never wanted;

like warmed wine, I shone with a light,

inside the cavern of myself it burned,

that strange attraction, alien to me:

I would not wish it on another girl—

 

how the swan gripped my shoulders,

then my waist, and the great wings,

two fists, knocked me to the ground.

 

The fragile shell breaks, and my heart’s

thin surface shudders, cracks—I hold

the child, still sticky from the egg, and feel

the fire, the knife, of knowing cutting

through my mind; I see it all—the boy

with his curling hair and shepherd’s crook,

the suitors crowding round the loom’s frame,

the small girl with her long thin fingers

sacrificed to feed the sails, the burnished

walls failing, falling, the fires and deaths—

 

more than that I see you, your disguise,

and know the secrets you desired that day

inside the fearful mortal touch of me.

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