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Arethusa 37.1 (2004) 137-138

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At the craggy point of the isle of Iscia,
the sea hag still scans the Mediterranean.
Her lair's swampy ground hates
the pristine, pink orchid at its edge.
She faces Africa with a devouring eye,
no ship nor sailor nor thirst-driven pass unseen.

They may be searching for the fountain of Arethusa
and the safety of the harbor.
They may find it,
but the sea hag stays in their sight, wretched, forlorn.
Then, drinking, bathing,
they will feel Arethusa's cold sweat
pour from her nude body to form this spring.
Prey fears only as much as a hunter needs.

There is a pub called "Ulysses" nearby
where the barmaids serve their own.
They don't care
if the sea hag is Scylla raking in her meat,
or a grotesque Siren calling,
or Circe making men swine,
but I must. [End Page 137]

Is it any wonder that Alpheus asked to become a river?
What spell or charm or prayer will make me flow?
May I flow into her,
or just flow . . . just flow,
and eventually all water
molecules will meet.

Alpheus lost, though,
or could he know that he flows
not into his nymph,
but eternal cold sweat?
Is that enough for him,
to know that she plunged far below,
and worships her chaste goddess,
to touch her perspiration that was once in her?

Now a statue stands there
trying to capture
in art
the motion of pursuit.
By chance, his thigh brushes her toes,
as patina to bronze,
and she flails to get away.
He did not learn to stop swimming.



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pp. 137-138
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