Salmacis' Lament

Among the naiads I alone abjured Diana’s hunt

arrows meant to pierce the hart ought to pierce the heart instead

drawn from Cupid’s quiver,

feathers lent by doves,

shafts by weeping willow,

fatal tips anointed with a potion steeped in carnal sweat

projectiles launched of me bent on easing echo loneliness

mine, unfazed by concourse with my peers, betraying urgent need

Otherness the antidote chosen to alleviate

relieve me of myself as poor Narcissus could not to be relieved

mate me with an opposite

foreign yet complimentary

fuse my flesh with his

for I am female

and a she desires a he

god or mortal or jinn

it matters not

so long as we are joined.


This, my plea, my prayer, my earnest exhortation

rose to Mount Olympus on a date that Fate forswore

knowing I was heard and, by Divine Capriciousness, answered.

Herein lies my narrative

a twisted tale indeed:


Born of him renowned for fleetness of foot
Born of her renowned for unrivalled beauty


sprang from his namesakes

Hermes and Aphrodite

blending traits and virtues native to each

an athlete’s strength and physique

the cheek of a cherub blushed with exquisiteness

grace infused with agility

splendour paired with verve

this, and more, I beheld at the lip of my crater-like depression

brimming with its liquid, pure as virginity’s unshed tears

fed by a crystalline spring

reflecting his perfection


features that Adonis himself would greet with envy’s awe

dashing as a leopard

dainty as a fawn

so unschooled in the ways and wiles of women

he did start, at my approach, as a flushed-from-hiding finch

that would have taken flight, if fully-fledged

but down on his dimpled chin could scarce be called a beard

rather an intaglio of the silken curls above

locks that kissed his shoulders as sunrise stroked yon bluffs

gilding them with a touch the harbinger of Midas’s

rich beyond illusion

fair beyond compare

mimicked by the crescents finely arched

over deep cerulean irises

into which I gazed like a wanton wed to opium.


Patience I showed none, to our everlasting detriment,

pressing suit, forsooth, I found my lust repulsed

fended off with protestations bashful

all the more inflaming for the youth’s unworldly guile

three times five, no more; his years lent mine maturity.


Stay then, I petitioned in a feint of sly self-sacrifice,

hopeful my retreat would restore his sense of ease

yielding him the pool perchance to view unawares

from a place at some short distance

to which, with reluctance, I secretly repaired

and lo, this ploy worked well, for in my absence he did linger

confident none, save eyes less concupiscent, would behold what mine espied

garments shed, exposing a form so faultless words cannot do justice

nor passion, worthy of the name, resist to take possession.


Leaping from my blind I rushed to water’s edge and plunged

crossing, with a single stroke, to the loins of my beloved

half of him apparent

half of him submerged

all of him contending with my profligate embraces.


Then, for fear of losing him, I dared entreat the gods:

‘Bind him to me always

Let us, forever, be entwined!’


Oh, how rash can be an unrequited ardour

when a maid, without her counterpart’s consent, would nonetheless persist

attempt to force communion through a frenzy of unchaste caresses

abandonment such that bodies groping, grappling

effectually converged

confusing masculine with feminine

our genders indeterminate

singular sex commingled

identities interlocked

he-ness, she-ness

nevermore apart

but Eternally combined.

1st Century, BC