Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mother Medusa by Elizabeth Oakes Ph.D.

Painting by Arna Baartz


Mother Medusa,
nightmare mother,
the archetypal I-don't-want-to-be-like-my-mother mother,
ball-breaker mother,
mother who takes no shit

mother with hair of snakes,
eyes of newt,
breasts of granite,
tongue of alley cat,
heart like rolling tide in storm

your raging spirit like a
hurricane,
tornado,
tsunami,
earthquake,
thunderstorm,
all contained in the wind tunnel of your throat

you scare those who shutter
the windows at a drop of rain,
who always smile into the mirror,
who fear the fire that reflects
in your Medusa eyes
and in their eyes

mother Medusa,
they told us you were a monster, a witch, a hag,
then they called us that

mother Medusa,
we interpret it another way –
a “you-call-me-bitch-like-it's-a-bad-thing” way

O mother Medusa,
we welcome you into this century,
we will not avert our eyes from you again,
we know we will not be turned to stone

we know the stone is our lost heart


-Elizabeth Oakes Ph.D., Vanderbilt University. Ms. Oakes is a retired professor of Shakespeare and American Women Poets. She is the winner of the 2004 Pearl Poetry Prize and author of 5 books of poetry. "Medusa" originally appeared in Matrix of the Mothers and is a selection from the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Re-visioning Medusa: from Monster to Divine Wisdom.

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