Nike, Medusa, Jocasta, Split

Rebecca Lehmann

When I speak in my most heretical voice,

he will know. When I come with my hair

undone — no, taken off — no, on fire —

no, turned to snakes. A woman in her power

is a woman creeping over a finish line

bloody kneed and gasping for air —

no, is a woman levitating — no, is not

a woman at all, is a high-pitched wail

echoing through a dell lined with bats

who shriek and fill the night and gobble

squirming larvae. At the end of one’s

rope there is squirming, at the end of one’s

tether. When I wrote about him

I wanted a cheap trick for a poem;

I didn’t imagine he’d come back to life

and breaststroke through my dreams.

He was always froglike, delicate,

a specimen to pin down with his doctored

nose, his fluttery lashes, his slender-

muscled arms that batted and batted,

even his penis, cocked and loaded

with gooey pale semen that never

got me pregnant, that I spit

in a dirty toilet. Done. In my most

heretical voice I flay him

and dissect. I raze the house

where he threatened to kill me

and build something else — a temple,

a glass greenhouse, a single room

where I wait with wingéd anticipation,

each hand holding a hairpin

to shove into his eyes, each hand

holding my anger, destructive. Except

he’s gone. Hanged and buried.

Eyes stitched shut so no light

can find them, not even the sickly

morning light through a long-

demolished window that once,

when we were young and drunk,

tumbled across our sleeping backs.

There was no love there. Or,

there was all of it. I don’t know.


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