Sleeping with Artemis Poem By Josh Bell
I hadn’t been that ashamed since
the Spartiate festival of the Hyacinthids,
and it was harder than we thought, sleeping
with Artemis. We brought sandwiches;
she brought arrows and stuck them
fletching up in the sand. We were vastly
unequipped. I looked to the heavens,
like you will, and asked for guidance
and a shield. To no avail. Furthermore,
the wine didn’t help like we thought.
She drank it down, cursed our mothers,
and only got reckless, really, popped
the blister on her heel, drew the bow,
and, with both eyes shut, skewered
Crissippus. We scattered like snacks.
I believe it happened in that clearing
by the stream, where much transpired
as of late: two dead last April—the girl
who smoked flowers—that quiet kid who
turned into bark. We should have known
better, with the storied plants along the bank
and the instructive constellations in the sky.
Then she swept out of the hedge like
a jack-knifed lion, a moon on each shoulder,
but you read the report. Indeed, sir,
we felt hairless, the offspring of mice,
when she quoted Hemingway, then turned
the forest to her wishes: leaves dropped
like bombs: branches shook: and where
the hounds came from, no one can tell.
From time to time, picking us apart now
from the stream, knee-deep and eyeing
the rushes for movement, she’d glance down
to her shirt, but it was always someone
else’s blood. I remember her teeth,
weren’t as straight as you’d think.
But something about her was perfect.