Apollo is stalking again this summer,
flaunting his meaty thighs, letting fly
his arrows. Kings summon oracles,
ask: Who is the abomination?
Whom shall we cast into the wilderness?
Heat rolls off our bodies like storms in the desert,
but all the pools are cursed. Dive in a woman,
come out a monster, leper-lady, bandages unwinding,
ringing your little bell.
This summer I can find no water, can swim only in grass.
Dry blades catch my arms and ankles,
I am drowning in it, swallowing whole meadows.
When I rise again, I go through the streets with my skin torn,
mouth full of grass. Like a mad queen perched on a weather vane
I chatter of lost cities, drool green.
Now I too am an oracle. Skies wheel above me.
I have visions of cattle, herded into the sea,
I know who the next leper in the next parable will be.
The people seek me now, and ask me:
Who is the abomination? whom shall we
cast out of the city?
I tell them:
Look into the cursed pools,
Tell me whose face you see.
In the heat my body turns to water. I shimmer like glass.
Bright arrows flicker overhead.
Rebecca Bratten Weiss is an independent academic and editor residing in rural Ohio. Her creative work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Two Hawks Quarterly, Presence, Connecticut River Review, Shooter, New Ohio Review, Sandy River Review, The Seventh Wave, Channel, and Westerly. Her collaborative chapbook Mud Woman, with Joanna Penn Cooper, was published in 2018 and her collection Talking to Snakes by Ethel Zine and Press in 2020.