Is This the Face?

By Evelyn de Morgan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Helen, by Evelyn de Morgan, 1898

I was thirteen, covered in zits,
my hair dripped grease down my back
my neck was much too long
I slouched to hide my breasts.
My big sister was clever and pretty.
My brothers were jocks.

I saw the goddess in a bowl of milk,
she looked up, smiling.
“Helen,” she said, “Helen, this
is a time of heroes. Helen, you
can have what everyone wants,
you shall choose how you shall be remembered.”

Did I think when choice was offered
of Atalanta, outrunning her suitors,
Andromeda, charming the dragon,
Artemis, huntress, clever Athene,
Hippolyta fighting at Theseus’s side
Medea the sorceress?

Not for a picosecond. “Goddess,”
I said, leaning forward,
so that my breath made the milk stir,
“In three thousand years I want a man
to sell his soul to have one glimpse
of my still legendary beauty.”

21st December 2002, Montreal