One Poem by Ellie Howard

Michelangelo Carves David into Medusa

Sanding down Medusa’s girldick, Michaelangelo
considers what serpent-hair should tuck against
her thigh, and splits the marble into three grass-snakes
he found nestled together that morning.

—Medusa:         What cruelty || to be born from bone
                                beneath a man || molding me,
                                formed again from shedding stone.

From atop his ladder, Michaelangelo removes
her slingshot, laying it in the garden terrace,
and in its hollow he pours a trap of honey.
After lunch, a mass of insects floats in the resin.

Medusa:         How the amber set || sun-shone
                                in the joint of my amputated || sling…
                                what’s blooming || to be turned to bone.

At the river’s mouth, Michelangelo offers honeyed aphids
to the triplicate of grass-snakes, and again considers her
curling hair—is it monstrous? He asks,
sketching the serpents’ unbodied tongues.

Medusa:         Perseus || Goliath || unknown
                                twin to my be-||-heading,
                                formed again from shedding stone.

In the morgue, Michaelangelo studies cadavers—
measuring the ratios between shoulders and hips
and marking the acute deposits of fat. Is this
all there is which separates us?

Medusa:         And Adam’s rib || I took as my own
                                in the turning dawn || in the new Eve.
                                What beauty || to be born from bone.

At next morning’s mass, Michelangelo wilts in his pew,
his palms winedark, his heels flitting to psalms.
Each pillar becomes a palimpsest of her,
every hymnal mouths a warning.

Medusa:         I struggle to place || the stretching tones:
                                the lulling harp || the Lydian sea,
                                formed again from shedding stone.

No, she will not remember || the chisel and sloughing,
the paring of muscle || the extracted sling || Perseus’
pursuit || her hair in his fists || King Saul’s javelin stuck
in the wall; she was not there || she is nothing but stone.

Medusa:         No, I remember || Michaelangelo ||
                                I remember it all: the sin and the fall || the snake in the weeds
                                What cruelty || bore me from clay and rib-bone?
                                What formed me || Michaelangelo || what stone could hold me?


Ellie Howard is a nonbinary writer from Georgia—occupied Muscogee Creek territory. They were formerly the Editor-in-Chief for the Old Red Kimono and the Eclectic, and were also published in Lammergeier Magazine. They are serving an indefinite ban from editing Wikipedia pages for deleting deadnames from popular trans articles.