Medusa’s Nightmare of Poseidon

Here is the opening aria from my opera in progress with Jessica Rudman, based on my novella Protectress (the novella is forthcoming January 2022 from Unsolicited Press).  Medusa, having survived Perseus’s supposed assassination of her, has lived mostly quietly into the modern age and has become a college professor. At the beginning of the opera, though, she’s just come out as immortal, and her sisters Stheno and Euryale have come to visit her to celebrate a big interview she’s done for Teen Vogue. But the first night they’re there, Medusa is wracked with a terrible dream.

Click here for the recording by Augusta Caso, mezzo-soprano, and Mila Henry, piano.

Text:
The foam was littered
with dark bones, minuscule bodies
of men and horses: sacrifices and murders. I couldn’t make out their faces,
but I know— they were the gods Poseidon has trampled.
They hung in his fetlocks,
hair and nails grown long
and brambled as they clung,
wet and eroding
to his legs.

He simply appeared, and
I was struck fast—
I couldn’t, I couldn’t breathe or move, standing in the temple like that night he came ashore—
but this, this was worse—
he stood,
roaring and roaring
like an ocean,
a lion,
an elephant seal,
like the sun screaming with fire,
like engines revving,
like the wind,
like all of the oceans he commands—

And all I could hear and smell and taste were his hooves on stone and
spears on shields
spears and shields, and
bang bang bang bang bang coming closer
closer
close.

There was a great tide of bulls
and they were running over me running and running
sharp hooves digging into my body my breastbone shattered
snakes ripped away
and a harsh, rising water keeps me down trying to penetrate
in every way it can
as the dead oxen trip and fall
the odor and the feel
of decaying flesh
lying on my own
and the running never stops
and the water forces its way in,
and—

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