By: Joie Filippini
her desecrated temple for my body,
stitched trident wounds closed,
kissed my bruised eyelids, combed my hair,
smoothed my chafed thighs, massaged
my shoulders & whispered she’d be back.
The journalists came first to smear me
across their tabloids & thinkpieces:
ruin to a precious reputation,
that poor god, a shell of himself.
One interview, I wrote to them,
requested they look me in the eyes
& determine the truth for themselves.
Their pens, sharpened to skewer me,
scattered on the floor.
Those I collected in a hairband bouquet
& presented the spoils to her:
tools worth thousands of words,
the first weapons of war.
In our marble archway, first she doffs
her helm, lays her naked shield,
her spear, at my feet.
We feed each other olives & grapes,
apple wedges & honeyed wine.
Reclining on an altar, she sheds
her immortality, a gauzy slip
bunched carelessly on the stairs.
In this form, her forearms are scarred,
her owl-footed eyes are tired.
When wisdom & war is your lover,
gray is your favorite color.
The heroes came next for glory,
to sanctify their swords with my blood.
In this way, I am the thousand ship face:
conquest, contest, prized object.
What they cannot know is she held my hands
in hers to teach parry, cut & thrust.
When she returns, I recreate their efforts
to slay me, laugh at their granite surprise.
She does not smile but she tastes sweet & leaves
her breastplate by my bed the next morning.
I am wearing it when Perseus beheads me in my sleep.
Where it’s quiet, she rests her forehead against mine.
There are no tears for what she made me:
gorgon, aegis, immortal, survivor, desired.
Joie Filippini is the daughter of a Korean adoptee and an ironic data analyst in Boston, MA. She is an alumna of the Kentucky Center Governor's School for the Arts in Creative Writing and has a degree in English with a minor in Gender and Women's Studies from the University of Kentucky. She won the 2014 Farquhar Undergraduate Poetry Prize and her work has been featured in Shale Literary Arts Magazine and Pedestal Magazine. In 2016, Joie self-published the chapbook Aquatint: Poems for Sara Baartman.
"I was quite the nerd in high school and compulsively reread Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" at least once a year, so Greek mythology became an undercurrent to my explorations of fantasy and pop culture. I've absorbed a few interpretations of the myth of Medusa over the years and came to my own understanding that in no sane universe does the goddess of wisdom victim blame, let alone punish a victim of sexual assault. Greek mythology--and real life--is replete with unresolved sexual violence, and in this age of #metoo, reboots and remakes, it felt necessary to give Medusa her own voice."