“Medusa,” by Ann Stanford, 1977

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Had I but known when I saw the god approaching!

His horses pulled him briskly over the water

as on dry land, wreathed in seaweed, dripping,

his chariot shone gold in the warm summer.

I stood as he walked– the old man– up from the shore.

He climbed the temple stairs. He praised my grace.

I had never seen a god before.

He seized and raped me before Athena’s altar.

 

It is no great thing to a god. For me it was anger–

no consent on my part, no wooing, all harsh

rough as a field hand. I didn’t like it.

My hair coiled in fury; my mind held hate alone.

I thought of revenge, began to live on it.

My hair turned to serpents, my eyes saw the world in stone.

 

Whatever I looked at became wasteland.

The olive trees on the hill as I walked down

rattled in the wind, then stood– as if a hand

had fashioned them of bronze. I saw the town

where I was raised become a stone. The boys

ran by as on a frieze, the charioteer

whipping his horses, held his arm, mid-air.

His horses stopped in stride. My hair

started to hiss. I hurried to my door.

The servant with his water jar upraised

stands there forever. I strode across the floor.

My furious glance destroyed all live things there.

I was alone. I am alone. My ways

divide me from the world, imprison me in a stare.

 

The prisoner of myself, I long to lose

the serpent hair, the baleful eyes, the face

twisted by fury that I did not choose.

I’d like to wake up in another place,

look for my self again, but there recur

thoughts of the god and his misdeed always–

the iron arm, the fall, the marble floor

the stinking breath, the sweaty weight, the pain,

the quickening thrust.

 

And now the start,

the rude circling blood-tide not my own

that squirms and writhes, steals from me bone by bone–

his monster seed growing beneath my heart,

prisoned within my prison, left alone,

despised, uncalled for, turning my blood to stone.

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a faceless drone in a corporate call center, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in my dead grandparents’ house, alone, with an impressive collection of martial arts weapons, where I practice and train daily. I am not currently on any medications.
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