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Among the Gorgons

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For Eleanor

For seventeen years I was caught in the surf.
Drubbed and scoured, I’d snatch a breath
and be jerked down again, dragged across
broken shells and shingle. I loved it,
mostly, the need, how I fed the frantic.

I’d skipped into that sea. Certainly not
a girl, but I could still turn a head as I took
the foam between my thighs.
Then it was over.

                                Hiss of a match
snuffed with spit. The sea had trotted off.
I stood in the stink of flapping fish.
At first it stung. A galaxy of dimes
eyed my sag and crinkles and dismissed
me like a canceled stamp,

but something tugged at me, silver braids
weaving and unweaving themselves
and either the path was shrinking
or I was getting bigger, for soon the way
was just a hair, the extra bit of wit

a grandma leaves on her chin
to scare the boys, and it led me
into a cave crackling like a woodstove
with laughter.

                            A landslide opened
a seam of rubies and we stepped inside.

Source: Poetry (January 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Among the Gorgons

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