Venus Instructing Cupid to Torment Psyche

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

         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