“The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.” –“Medusa,” Louise Bogan
You aren’t thinking of Medusa
the morning you’re walking
down Milwaukee Avenue—you’re
only thinking about walking, no real
destination in mind, just the idea
that you’ll see more clearly
if you keep moving. You assume
you’ll stop at some point, call
a rideshare to take you home,
but instead, you keep going,
leave Logan Square behind,
then Bucktown, then Wicker Park.
And when you reach West Town
in the early afternoon, you realize
that you’re going to walk all the way
to your favorite portrait at the Art
Institute, the one in Gallery 212
that knows all of your secrets.
And even though you don’t visit
the Golden Age drawings,
Godfried Maes’ Head of Medusa
is still there, screaming from a wall
nearby. You know you want
to write these poems as if you were
one of her two Gorgon sisters, snakes
breathing truth in your ears as you sleep,
but now you second guess your words,
wander the lines of this poem as if
it were a story without an end,
as if the sword coming for
your own head weren’t inevitable.
Jen Finstrom is an adjunct instructor at DePaul University in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse Department and is also Outreach Coordinator at DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL). She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for thirteen years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.
Artwork: Godfried Maes, Head of Medusa, 1680