"Antiope was long held prisoner, but one day
her chains fell off of their own accord.”
—New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology
Handprints on my skin. I’ve forgotten how to pray.
Count the feathers of a bird, count the ways
you know to cry. The men they say are gods
are old drunk fools.
Mother appears to me in a scrim of yellow cotton.
I see she has the body of a goddess,
curved and wide, as father stands back, admiring her.
I am naked, she says. There is nothing
they can take from me now.
I wake again bound,
knees and elbows the tipped hinge of hips;
what looks like collapse is a tightening coil,
muscle on bone angled like wood for fire.
But in a wind of dust and camphor
a voice blows through me.
Torn words, then words of bright green flame,
sun’s copper burning and these chains:
a memory of sons, my body broken, a yellow dress.
I empty my silence
even of rage.
They say I escaped
as if by miracle, but I will tell you the miracle:
I cut my throat open.
I set myself free.