Poetry / Sandra Lim
:: Classics ::
Actaeon turns into a stag, I say, as I spear the fourth oily olive on my toothpick. He saw her nakedness, which was appalling in the way it tested the air around it. Then come the hounds, with their complicated names, the baying and the lurid viscera. Down this road we can scarcely follow in words, but I always feel the clothes newly on her back, and the low calm that comes when bad temper is spent. He is inhumanly excited. A rack of antlers emerges from his forehead as I talk; there’s no stuffing it back in. He doesn’t seem to notice, as he pulls me into his lap. I sip my drink, and the bartender decants striped red straws with their determined gaiety into a glass jar, carefully wipes down the scarred tabletop. Humiliation, what of it? Formerly, I had a few feathers around my mouth, but nothing in my head.
From the writer
:: Account ::
This poem came to me as a bit of a surprise. I was just trying to pin down a scene in a bar; I certainly wasn’t consciously thinking about human frailty or classical mythology. But I love myth for the way it works as a kind of alternative language. Here, I wish for the poem to go beyond the language of psychology with respect to longing and looking, or desire and vulnerability. I hope you can hear the antlers crackling into view.
Sandra Lim is the author of Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press, 2006) and The Wilderness (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014). Her new collection of poems, The Curious Thing, will be published in 2021.