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from the November 2011 issue

Women’s Fantasies

                  For Susanne Rinne

It pleases me to straddle a horse and ride
like women do in the frescoes of Pompeii
in the Roman way, the Andromache way.
Then you would bear my mark
sweeter than brands made
from the red iron of lovely servitude, now banned.
Great joy for a woman as well!
You’ll have no cause for complaint.
You’ll be sated
doing all these things you say
to the gray kingbird, to the singing cock,
without end,
all these forbidden things
in theory
as they say:
a woman’s fantasy,
fantastic ride
of mighty Amazon warriors, female soldiers of Dahomey,   
like Penthesilea, spirited queen.
After all, what’s the danger
in doing these things that you say—
if by chance we should do them—
as long as we do them
while wildly insane?
For an upright woman today
will not, for all that, be defamed.

Oh understand how I waver!
What is this feminine sense
of decency, its tight reins?
I’m well aware I must refrain
from doing these things you say
ill-fated . . .
Believe me, I am dismayed
that these are forbidden things.

Now it is I inviting you
in melody,
in harmony.
Must we really be drunk to make
our living flesh rejoice?
Must we slowly drift away
in fairy tales,
in barbaric ways,
extreme in our rage
as in our cravings,

Ah, to be able to ride
like women do in the frescoes of Pompeii
like Andromache, in the Roman way,
straddling my proud horse
to Hell’s Road in Saint-Pierre
just below the volcano, Rise-to-Heaven Street
under Mount Pelée,
doing all these forbidden things
in paradise,
to allow myself all these positions you say
in mystic cries,
Yé mistikri!
To allow myself all these forbidden positions
and krik and krak
and krik krak.
No, the court will not sleep,
still hand to hand, filled with cries
of hedonistic poetry,
sweet Philosophy!
I took off
and worse, untamed
and running, I escaped
as a chestnut brown
Caribbean gourmet.

                    Martinique, 2003

© Suzanne Dracius. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by Nancy Naomi Carlson. All rights reserved.

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