Medusa on Sansome and Pine

By Tiffany Higgins Tiffany Higgins
The woman is daft.
Invented her own sect.
Has upside-down sex.
With alternate species.

You see her on the street.
Corner of   Sansome and Pine:
Morning rev up of sf financial types.
Instead, there she is, beneath a gigantic hat.

Hair wild, in coils, like a rattle-
Snake. Smiles like she’s got the shakes.
Every cell in her seems to vibrate.
Psst! Could you turn that to low ?

The gray-suited, heads bent to cement, pass.
Edges of  her sleeves are threads;
Her clothes mismatch. The shoes
Are not a pair. She stands as you stare,

Or better yet, ignore. You ask
Her if she’s fine, and she replies, Fan-
Tastic! As if  this were the day
She’d finally learned to levitate,

And her eyes are the doors
To a holographic universe,

And she looks right through you,
As if  you too had won the lottery of the soul.
And you look down at your shiny, perfectly symmetrical shoes,
Like, Man, that’s more than I wanted to know.

And — Didn’t anyone tell you you need a reason — 
A  house you own, matching clothes,
Translucent skin, sheen of fashion,
A pulsing bank account, like our galaxy always expanding — 

To feel so friggin’ over the moon?
Who are you? How do you justify you?
What made you you? What context gave you you?
And on the curb you kick, swing, scuff your shoes.

The woman is daft.
Invented her own sect.
Probably has no sex, or too much.
With any species.

She hasn’t yet learned
That happiness is contingent — 
It depends upon
The things aforelisted.

She’s just riding on the being of   being.
Hedonist. On her hand, a rock
As if, eons ago, the glacier had swung by and deposited
A boulder on her finger. The elemental pinned to her.

The woman is daft, I tell you.
Adrift. Steer clear. The glint
In her — shield your eyes. Downcast.
Don’t let it get to you. She will die

Alone — while you, you’ll have — 
Have — Resist. Do not,
I say, do not
Long for that magic.

Source: Poetry (November 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2013
 Tiffany  Higgins


Tiffany Higgins is the author of And Aeneas Stares into Her Helmet (2009), selected by Evie Shockley as the winner of the 2008 Carolina Wren Press Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in the Massachusetts Review, Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, Prelude, Catamaran Literary Reader, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Audio recordings of her poems and commentary on poetics appear on the website, From the Fishouse

Evie Shockley wrote of And . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology


Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.