Medusa

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The serpents

Wrathful, writhing,

appeared slowly

One or two or three

at a time

In response to

extreme

provocation.

First he raped her in her marriage bed,

where she lay, sold by her father,

paid for with a princess dower.

Raped her again and again,

until she grew to accept it as her due.

Dutifully.

The first snake she wore around her arm,

a symbol of her station: rich and gold and

closely guarded.

And then he raped her daughter. And when she objected she was jailed and

more snakes grew and

hissed in her ears until she piled them like a crown on her head and

wore them like a queen- still a woman who knew her power.

And then he turned her son against her, beating him until he too betrayed her.

And the snakes rose up from her belly and her groin – wound themselves around her and

strong men looked away in fear. And some in shame and

they despised their own fear and

it made them hate her.

They feared her anger.

Look away they said or you will turn to stone

– so powerful was her rage.

The snakes nested in her hair and

she was sent her out to sea

banished, and

still they remembered the snakes –

mostly just the snakes,

and shuddered at the memory, and

women were not allowed to be angry or

powerful any more for it made men

fearful and

it made men weak.