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Pasiphae

                                    Joanna Pearson


“You treat me like a big, warm beast,” he said
when I last pulled him softly to my bed
to comfort me. I wouldn’t be alone.
Mornings, I took the cool seat of my throne.
My king would sigh and rub his weary brow.
“How did you sleep?” he’d ask. I’d shrug. “And how
about yourself, my lord?” He’d twist his ring
while coughing, nod, and tell the servant, “Bring
a plate of fruit and bread for us to eat.”
I’d pluck some grapes. We’d breakfast, cold and neat.

My appetites were other, anyhow,
those full-mooned evenings, dressing like a cow.
The white bull’s nostrils misted in my hand,
his muscled shoulders wider than a man’s.
He’d nuzzle, heave his shaggy forelimbs, gentle
for a thing so large and elemental.
It wasn’t odd, the urgent fur and grunting,
just two creatures in the moonlight rutting;
seemed natural, in fact, to lie beneath
those dainty, cloven hooves. His cud-stained teeth
revealed themselves in love’s crude, closing sneer,
and then we’d rest. I’d curl and nestle near
his steamy rump, my headrest his long spine.
Who knew then there’d be labyrinth or twine,
or youth sent down as useless sacrifice
for my rough son? Yet nothing will suffice
to quench my husband’s anger, after all;
our instincts, in the end, still animal.


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