The Medea Complex

Medea by Evelyn de Morgan

The Medea Complex

Robert E. Stutts

Ruddy scratches across
my thighs where your
lips grazed like sun cattle
on the gray grass of twilight.
You try to whisper,
mouth full of petals
that dry your words,
and I force your lips
apart, so you may thrill me
with your language,
or let me drink
in your sound.
This mattress forever holds
our imprints, vague
shapes of endless nights,
outlines drawn under this quilt.
Never betray the bed
with the sheets dried
in the sunny breezes;
my love will turn
to bitter, burning poison,
and I will not content
myself with making simple patchwork
patterns easily forgotten once
threaded together and thrown
across the bed.

In moonlight I would sculpt
you a new body from clay,
stronger yet bearing
impressions of my fingers
along your ribs.
Each morning I create
you anew, tracing the gentle lines
of your limbs, the arch
of your throat. You go
to the docks, pulling in
and casting out the nets,
bringing home fish,
silver-finned and sleek,
that I will cook in my pot.
The threads of your fisherman’s jersey
are fraying, and the wind bites
at the sun-reddened skin
that shows through.
From an old oaken trunk
I pull over your tousled head
a sweater of golden wool
(it belonged to my grandfather)
that I should rip in two
to please myself in you look
elsewhere when the tide rolls out.

You sit on the couch,
watching me like hunger,
as I dance around
the stove, making stew
from dragons and uncles.
Someday, I will sit,
served by your ambition
as you fumble directionless
in the kitchen,
useless without me
to tell you where
the sage or basil or parsley
is kept in tiny jars.
Beware the dried hemlock
I keep on the windowsill;
I’m saving it for a special dish.
The name is betrayal revenged,
and I will destroy all
remnants of our life
together, murder the mistress,
then the children, and serve them
for you to feast upon.
And when you have finished,
lying bloated and wide-eyed
like the fish you net off the sea,
I shall sit alone, napkin
spread across my lap,
and I will dine on your heart.

Published in Amelia Magazine, 1997
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