|Apr/May 2020 Poetry Special Feature|
Multimedia painting by Janet Bothne
Aubade with Medea
He draws the dagger
from every angle but does not let her use it.
—Chelsea Rathburn, "Variations on a Theme: Delacroix's Medea, 1820–1862"
You're somewhere between the suburbs
and home when the rideshare driver
swears at the traffic slowing down
around you, everyone taking pictures
of the car on fire on the other side
of the highway. It's something out
of a movie: hungry flames, other cars
too close, and you want to create
a backstory for the woman wearing
a dark winter coat and knit hat
walking away from the car in
the direction of the city, buildings
just visible ahead of her. You've
spent the weekend with a man
you've been seeing, have a book
on your lap from a strip mall used
bookstore, are right now reading
Chelsea Rathburn's poem about
Delacroix and his many Medeas.
The line "But the truth is there is no
single truth" stops you, and you consider
what is becoming familiar: late afternoon
light through the windows, parking
lot broken up by flat winter ground,
drinking whiskey from his coffee mug.
But also the car engulfed in flames,
smoke rising, the woman walking
away as if what had contained her
just moments before wasn't burning.