MEDUSA VARIATIONS

we don’t know how you do it   my sisters say   how can you even stand

           to be around him         i don’t   i tell them i

float   it’s worse when i’m alone   can’t seem to strap    myself down and replant

           nematocysts in the skin   even the smallest   current can trigger   a breath   

at the back of the neck   can set   my body stoney  don’t you

           come near me   don’t you dare

touch   the water   darker than a ring of blood   or the corpses of my sisters

           flashing at the surface   the way bolts of lightning

strike a wave   by morning   we’ll form a bloom   wash up on the beach front

           blue-lipped and tangled in kelp   silver women  you’ll net and hook   if you can

look through me   i won’t make a sound   touch me   small god

           offer your hand

 

                                    //

 

tell me  were you just   a man   trapped

           in the body of a translucent fish   down fathoms of darkness

i sank where   you spawned   the oceanic chasm

           where i’d drowned before   to find you   only a man and men   i can hook   i said

pressed a switchblade to my head and cut   my curls until they twitched

           into tentacles   anything you touched   i wanted

sliced from my body   even the light   reached into me

           and fluttered   like black veins   against lobes of the heart

so the shadows marbled   so on your body    blind   i’d fix my eye

 

                                    //

 

sisters   i want to live   far away from men   suspended in

           a volcanic vent   as though sulfur   could cauterize   my mouth

an orb of water   he entered   tentacles barbed   barred his hips

           what                pulled him in pulled him in pulled him in

where the wave breaks   where bones can split   a temple   the gullet   the flesh

           divided   only by a beat of salt           when i say   he turned me

the way a stone spins   down a net   drawn back to a boat deck   i mean

           i will rend   a rift in the seabed   sow polyps of hatred   the necessary

venom   one thousand medusas   will rise from

M’Bilia Meekers was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana with roots in Belgium and Sierra Leone. She has received fellowships from Poets & Writers and the Cave Canem Foundation. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The New YorkerGuernicaTinderbox, and Poet Lore. She lives in Brooklyn and is an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University.