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Chaining Andromeda

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Sometimes,
when the world is asleep
and the night is warm,
I go looking for the outline
of Andromeda.

They call her the chained maiden
in the stories
when they bother to tell them—
the sacrifice
and the sea monster,
princess and the chains.
The waves sing, call her back to the water,
as I sit on a broken swing,
kicking gravel,
and dreaming of old worlds
and legends:
a sky that is not dominated by Orion
or Draco,
but the delicate binding
of interwoven stars
and the strength of Andromeda’s
arms.

I am trying to read
the story of sacrifice written
in the stars;
to listen past the triumph of Perseus
and the death of Cetus
for the sound of naked suffering
and the betrayal of Andromeda.
I sometimes think of
reaching out
(my hands much smaller
in the night)
to skim the surface of the sky;
catch hold of the cool metal chains
and pull her back, out of the stars—
the echoes and roars
of an angry sea—
and into the arms
of another fragile dawn.

Instead I sit,
swing creaking,
eyes closed
as I fight the vicious endings
of old stories.
The world is quiet,
cloaked in night and
the fire of stars,
and I wait in the darkness
and the shadow of Andromeda:
listening for the echoes
of broken chains.



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