By Anushka Joshi
Illustration by Manya Tam
Yes we all know the story
Of the hero Perseus who
Decapitated the monster Medusa,
She of the hair like snakes, she
Whose one look turned people into stone,
But did you know the preface
To that story?
How Medusa was raped
By the sea king in the temple
Of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
And how the goddess in all her wisdom
Punished Medusa, not Poseidon,
Replacing skin with scales,
Replacing hair with serpents
And replacing her gaze
Which had once melted
Men to lust and love,
To a stare that turned them into stone.
Medusa lived, from then on,
Alone on the island
No one approached her,
For when she looked at people
They became calcified in their
To apathy, unable
To feel or care
For this woman,
Perseus killed her by
Holding up a mirror to her,
So that she saw herself,
After years of suspecting it,
As others saw her:
Filthy, evil, terrifying.
And she turned herself into stone.
He cut off her head
When she had resigned herself to rock,
Surrendered herself to stillness,
A cement scream, a marble ache,
A slab of pain waiting to be carved
He placed the sword on her neck, which had been
Bowed in shame all these years.
The waves that she looked upon in her last glance
Became cliffs in mid-air,
Drops of her blood left pebbles on the beach.
She died, but her stare lived on,
Sowing seeds of stone,
The inheritance of indifference.
Tell me, who is the monster