800px-Schnorr_von_Carolsfeld_-_Hephaistos_überrascht_Aphrodite_und_Ares
APHRODITE
by Lynne Rees

I liked to watch his arms, the way the muscles flexed
as he worked. I could make rivers run from the sweat
beading on his skin, by smoothing my hand
from the curve of his neck to those firm hills.
He was no looker but that body made me weep;
his thighs were as tight as iron.

The accident put an end to all that.
I watched him learn to walk again,
bent over at the waist, struggling
with the leg supports. If I tried to help him
he threw me angry words.

What else was I to do?
It’s in my nature to be loved.

He found out, told all his friends.
Of course, they sided with the cripple.
I could hardly walk down the street
for winks and nudges, his mates balling their fists
and calling my name. I went away to the sea
to let things settle. He missed me so.

I’m more careful now. Sometimes
I watch him when he doesn’t know
and those arms still make me feel weak;
they could crush a child as easy as eggs.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The re-visioning of myth is something I began to explore while studying for my Master’s degree in the late 1990s. Giving voice to the women in these ancient stories  seemed to help me find my own emerging voice as an apprentice writer and also discover a certain amount of self-belief as a woman.

IMAGE: Hephaestus, Aphrodite, and Ares by Julius Schnoor non Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

lynne

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Rees was born and grew up in South Wales, UK. Novelist, poet, life writer, editor, and psycho-geographer, her most recent book is Real Port Talbot (Seren 2013), an upbeat and offbeat historical and journalistic exploration of her hometown. She is joint editor of the long-running journal, contemporary haibun online and blogs weekly on life, food, and writing as “the hungry writer” at www.lynnerees.com.

Author photo by Monte Pulciano.