The Liberation of Herculea’s Perfume

They claim her brain has wheels,

That her heart is deteriorating, her memories

Suffocating the truth, that she fights her battles in the

Forum of art, decapitations, her dark corners, shutdown sensationalism,

Eating spectacles and holding mass-grudges beneath collapsing ceilings.

They holler that her standards are too high, that she is not here, not invested.


They will not dig holes with her, unlock the minds of graves.

They refuse to look at the pathway behind her, leading her to

Where she spins in circles, slowly forward, alone, with tampering hands and cylinders.

She changes her voice every minute, the face she speaks to,

Fading away as nothing important dissolves out of the mouth.

They cannot last, she cannot withhold who she unlearned to be.


The carousel of empty charades and backstabbing grimaces,

Enveloping voices of girlhood and thunder, womanhood and marshlands,

Pirouetting, whispering sharply around the end of her body, her hair, the steady neck.

The heat within her fingers, the abandoning tongue cutting everything loose.

And she turns page after page, a match in one hand, salt in the other.

They haunt her skin, blow dead winds across her back, the spine never breaks.


“Portrait of Zorka” by József Rippl-Rónai (1861-1927)

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