The Latin Teacher’s Lament
In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Gods— those ageless oafs whose scattershot and squiggling adventures often leave my students giggling— inseminate a hundred earthling bawds, whereas their mountain-tall, immortal sisters, the Goddesses, are rarely shown to be progenitors of mortal progeny. Why do the misses score less than the misters? After you ran my wife off last July, I think I know. The poet was too kind to saddle any of the death-consigned young men who populate his book with fate’s most cruel curse: a mother whom one hates, and whom one dreads, and who will never die.
The Faerie Queen Speaks
Come kiss me, you scarfaced old-timer. Come embrace me, my postpubescent pet. Unwind my hundred-year-old obi. Strip off my mod designer threads, my green hand-woven kirtle, my Hello Kitty™ barrette. Let me show you Faerieland. Relax. Lie back on my recliner. I’m the toast of the town in Ed Koch’s Manhattan and 8 B.C. Tibet. What’s your name again? Thomas the Rhymer? Urashima the Fisherman? How fast an old dame like me forgets.
Fatima, my next-door neighbor, chews me out: “Round ten o’clock the other day, you passed me in the street and didn’t say hello. Is neighborliness just old news to kids your age?” Her milky eyes accuse me as I crouch down on the steps to help her scoop her dropped plums up from where their pulp has blotched the dusty floor with purple ooze. Her gnarled hand grips a plastic shopping bag that has a hole in it. She doesn’t deign to thank me for my aid, but snaps, “Last year, my husband died,”—she waves away my vague condolences—“and I’ve been living here four decades. Doubt me? Ask the landlord, then.” Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was a Small Press Poetry Bestseller. Her poetry, fiction, book criticism, and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Barrow Street, Bellevue Literary Review, Gargoyle, Harpur Palate, Massachusetts Review, Measure, Pleiades, Post Road, Rhino, Spillway, and 32 Poems.