Rachael Lyon

Self Portrait as Pasiphaë
by Rachael Lyon

he’s not half-bull

but in that way that every child
consumes his mother

from within—
first in the natural way

that thirst for blood
red light

for pulse of heartdrink in—
this child is taking me

i felt it first as fear
gut-drop, flood-brain panic

that seized control
of every limb

and thought
and heartbeat

made me yearn for pain
or for a way

to take it from his body
like a lead coat

lifted off
i have swum in the bright, clean

water of his love
his face lifted for a kiss

wide open
never doubting it would come

have smelled the sun
upon his skin

tasted his tears, slept
to the rhythm of his breath

my hand riding the moon
of his stomach

but already come the glimpses
of desertion—

at times, a graphic flash
of death imagined

hush of a car passing close
blip at the top

of a staircase
or else a subtler egress, his hand

pushing mine away
head turned

a tide withdrawn

each day a test
to see if i will follow

plot the labyrinthine path
carved out for us

give arm and leg
heart and mouth

until i have nothing left
to sustain him

to keep him here
or if i’ll watch him go

walk away
and not look back


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 3.

Rachael LyonRachael Lyon is a poet and translator. Her chapbook, The Normal Heart and How It Works (2011), won the White Eagle Coffee Store Poetry Chapbook Award and was a finalist for the Black River Chapbook Competition. She received a Fulbright grant to Vienna, Austria, for her work translating poetry from German. Her most recent translation project, a book-length collection of contemporary poetry by Irmgard Löschner, ein Baum voll perlgrauer Tauben (2018), was published by Verlag Berger. Her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewSouthern Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and dog and teaches writing at Penn State.

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