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This poem is taken from PN Review 83, Volume 18 Number 3, January - February 1992.

Three Poems Ruth Valentine

MEDUSA

A violet jellyfish pierced me through the nipple
as I swam naked in a copper bay
off Karpathos. Since then I have been chosen.

The sting was on the left side, close to the heart.
I heard it again in the sharp twang of a lyre
played in the night in the time before defeat.
A waiter blessed the street with a glass of water.

They said the medusas had come to the Aegean
through the Dardanelles, along with the Russian fleet
seeking a warm-water harbour for absolution.
This was possible

as was the other idea, that the gods had fallen
off the rocks into the sea, and were bobbing, breeding
in their old obsessive way among the dolphins,

now and then coming to land, to muddy an icon
...


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