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The Poetess

August 5, 2010

by Wendy Vardaman


She steps from her father’s noble brow, so far above the usual procedure that they pretend not to notice this bit of magic, don’t even stoop to comment. He raises a marble white, long-fingered hand to his temple and voilá, extracts with care a robed daughter, already well into the reading of some weighty book of law.
What you don’t know is that she’s emerged from his head every day this way for years — ever since she was born — trying without success to get an audience to notice: different outfits, different props. One day she’s a lion tamer holding a chair, the next a fire fighter wielding a hose, an acrobat, a master chef, an actress, figure skater, criminal investigator, neurologist. A long, long time ago, still small, she’d appear in the cutest, lace-trimmed ruffled skirts, tap dancing her little heart out of his brain.
What does a goddess have to do to get noticed? Tight pants & belly shirts? A black period with pierced tongue? Pink hair? Ripped abs? She’s been tweaking one thing and another for so long, she hardly remembers her own name, much less what she ever stood for, if anything. The other gods in her god group are full of advice: hurl thunderbolts, send plagues, promise the moon, dress imposingly, cut to the chase.
But she can’t muster, anymore, the energy even to make an effort. Shows up every morning in a nightgown with the book she was reading when she fell asleep still in hand, steps out of the stony-eyed head, and goes home to the kids without even looking back to see if she’s drawn a crowd.
So it’s a surprise one day when someone does notice and, for whatever reason, worships the ground she walks on. It’s hard to take seriously, this late interest in her work; she’s sure it’s a fad — consider the source. Still, it’s gratifying to hear someone say with appropriate awe at last: Look, everyone, it’s the Goddess of Wisdom come forth fully-formed from the temple of Zeus.


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Wendy Vardaman (website) lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is the author of Obstructed View (Fireweed Press). She works for The Young Shakespeare Players, a children’s theater company, co-edits Verse Wisconsin, and does not own a car.

Categories: New Classics Tags:
  1. August 5, 2010 at 2:24 pm | #1

    :-) Marvelous!

  2. March 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm | #2

    This is a seriously great poem, I love it,,, Thank you, much appreciated…

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