Venus Instructing Cupid to Torment Psyche
after the painting of the same name by Jakob de Wit
Perhaps you think this fig
is my heart — shriveled,
cold, filled with black seed.
Today a child looks seaward
to the boats hauling a fine catch
of dogfish. But instead of helping
the fishermen, he kneels,
collects abalone shells in a sack
not for my temple — but to decorate
Psyche’s doorstep. I will send
a frilled shark to snatch him.
I will explain later to the parents.
I tell you this: if you do not whip
knots into her hair, or cover
her toes with weeping blisters
so wet no bandage could sop
the blood — you are not a god
you are not my good son.about the author