“Pasiphae” by Margaret Wack

How can we help what we love? There is no
loyalty in action, not when the body
is full of stars like bees and wants only
to be flooded. Like a flowerhead waiting

for the breeze to seize and scatter it,
a white bull sleek and bright as a river full
of sickle moons and sin. You must understand
that love is a promise like a long, thin thread,

like a blank afternoon, like a skein
unraveled in a maze and then pulled tight
by longing. Like a fine rain. You must
understand that desire is like a knife

to the throat of a wounded animal,
like a field fire-razed in the dying
light. Like a boat shattered on rocks
in darkness. You must understand

that satisfaction is an infestation
of insects clamoring to be let loose.
Like a hive humming. I am only saying
that you are like honey on the tongue,

that I should hoard you like strange
medicine. I am only saying that the sky
could swallow us at any moment, that the sea
is petty and full of jealous rage, that the world

spits on us and we must smile despite it.
There is a light coming in from the ragged
edges of the dawn and we are stripped
and laid bare before one another. My mouth

a silver lick of moon, your hands all beestung
red and rough with want. Let us forget
our spells and oracles and prayers,
unspool the future into empty palms

like a thread of gold, like a hung noose, like
an arrow strung and then let loose. Let us slit
the belly of the night and lie down in it. Let us
go on living.

Truancy 7, January 2020

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BIO: Margaret Wack is a poet and writer whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality, Arion, and elsewhere.


More can be found at margaretwack.com.

Margaret Says: “This poem was inspired by the myth of Pasiphae, who was queen of Crete, wife of King Minos, and mother of the Minotaur.”