Bridget Brewer

Pasiphae: An Essay


Slavering sea-god sick with rage. My husband at the crux of the sin. And I the one to pay. And I the one to blame. I cannot be made to repent. Did I cast my own curse? The me that emerged, regardless/in spite of, sticky/salted/primed? Fetus me? Fertile me? Are we not mere receptacles for the smear of sacred semen, the whole fabled lot of us fairer sexed? This is my rhetorical thesis. Whether or not I had any say in my actions, whether or not I was cursed by a god, I cannot be made to repent for our love. I will run my mouth to shock them until I rot in death’s riverbed.


Not to say you weren’t a prize. Even my husband, when push came to shove, could not return you to the sea.  A real veal vision you made of yourself. Stable dweller. Shackled fighter. Great white accolade. Still dripping from the tip of your tail. Rippled flank. Horns clear as creek water, and no bead of sleep in your lids. Your good eye upon me. Long spools of foreskin. Heft and weight. Estimating, my loose gaze now fixed. The ache of my longing. The ache of it. What I, war bride, was prepared to surrender. A deathless future means no regrets. And my lust, just once, for the upper hand. To literally lust for the feel of the reigns. To get off on the knowledge that this once, it would not be me chomping at the bit. To send my husband spewing poisoned creatures from his proud loins: to do that tenfold, to fuck the gift he was given. Nothing gets me wet like prizewinning.


Let us raise our glasses to the builders. To the father and son. To what I went through to hide my costume of consummation: the prayers I prayed, the price I paid, the nights I spent in my human husband’s embrace. He who, without the aid of a skein of liquor, reviled in total this womanly figure. Who busted into me and slept all upon me. No snake or scorpion ejaculate in my cunt, though how poisoned I felt full of kingly juice. To Daedalus and his idiot son and to the plans for a higher contour.


How I ached. I can’t begin to describe it. Repetition gives way to weight. I trembled. I moaned. I mean to tell you I stretched all my holes for you. Don’t you wonder how you fit inside me? Hours. Widening myself with candles, root vegetables, handles, trinkets. Sleeping stuffed. The fists of my handmaidens inside me all night, quivering to keep still, fluttering from the effort and disgust they endured. A treasure trove; a cabinet; a preparation; an altar: inside me a carrot, a candle, a rope, a stone, a wild boar’s shank bone: polluted to be pure, thusly, for you, how I yearned, for you, Horned One.


That equation where you are animal: you are a to b to c: you are fuck to make to earn the meal. The equation where you cannot call me empty, you cannot call me baby, you cannot use me up. And we understood one another, as fellow property that lives and feeds. Desired object of my husband; but in my hands, you switch masters, you turn traitor for me. This is what I loved. This, the threat of your horns.


Your transformation, my love, will come when your throat is slit and your meat is carved and salted and hung from the spit. But mine was a more majestic trajectory. Picture me provisionally. When the builders bring me to my true form. Immortal bovine shell, never to age, never to die. A regal heifer made from a copse of ash, springing like a babe from the thigh of the earth. The carpenter showed me my new sap-sticky skin: hide so white, fastened, haired roof for my wooden body-house. Soft woods at work here. Whittled haunches, hooves, snout. A lock of false hair. A hole under nose/a hole under tail. To take in breath/ to take in seed. Only two functions required of this new body of mine, and fuck if it didn’t feel like a more honest body in the grand scheme of things. I opened the trap door in the belly. Lifted my heel. Clambered inside myself. And once there, smelled the warmed finish. Smooth. With the grain. The hollow center molded to my frame.  Arms and legs down heifer trunks. The form I designed. Imagine, my love. To christen a vessel with your own salt. To climb inside, naked and widened, foreign and familiar. To be sealed. Becoming-animal. Beast-makery. Weeping-birth.


I, led by the carpenter to you. You, led by the carpenter to me. We, prepared to earn the meal.


A black-sailed ship will approach on the horizon. A king will drown himself in the sea. A boy will bring out his sword, unravel a spool of thread, slit the neck of a star. Spider Daughter, in charge of a maze, heroine of the story. Starry Son, monster, antagonist. So many sons so slaughtered, so many daughters so left alone to die. I. Irregular Satellite. Misnomer. Bull Adulteress. Can’t you see, my love, the origin of my devotion? If I’m to have no other role in this story, then I will fuck until my pubis snaps.


Lo our first time. Look upon us, I say. Heads tossed/ hooves heaved/ your pheromones thick like a cloud in my nose/ I breathed you in/ one function of this body complete/ the bristle of you audible/ the ache/ unable to wait/ from inside my wooden body I screamed/ you, mounting me/ how you amplified/ how you amplified/ come into me/ you, plunging/ pushing yourself/ through wooden hole to flesh hole/ and here I am ready for you/ so wide/ so ready/ stretched out by vestal virgins and ready for the size of your/ lo/ you slid into me/ slick slack easy/ churned cow butter on a warm wide roll/ cycles of tides, my mouth as a bowl/ so wide was I, the flaps of me fluttered/ a grotto of wet warm worship/ the walls of me yielding/ come into me/ the walls of me quaking/ wild, lo/ spilling with oceans/ the moon all askew/ the tides of us/ the bucking/ the tides of us/ the bucking/ we match/ we make/ the bucking/ the tides of us/ a too-full cup/ lo/ lo/ I say/ the bucking/ bull woman/ bull woman am I:


Go on, O Fair, O Just, O Good. Wash your hands of the slop of me.


Husband, king, voice of my sovereign, “Get out, you whore,” an interstellar scream, pounding his man fists on my newfound numb skull. Me inside so sated I am, crying without sound. So filled to the brim I am, leaking. From every place I can, my eyes, my mouth, my loins. My hoof shoes all puddle. My fists full of cream. Laugh of the sea god now loud in my ears. Fetus me! Fertile me! Immortal joke, and I deaf to the punchline! Ha! Ha! Ha!


Star child. Labyrinthine bedchamber. Meals of children, fed to our child. My milk not for supping. A burst of heat/ blood/ sinew. The builders flee their prison, melt their wings, drown in silence. My king/my husband does well with the whip: “If you want to be a beast, I’ll control you like one.” Welts and anal bleeding and I long for a variation of your face but if I stick my head into the labyrinth our star child will eat me. He has your snout. He has your hooves. Inclinations and eccentricities. We are all retrograde moons, we have all captured an asteroid. I feel the vacuum of space and time like syphilitic boils on my skin, I have been scrubbed I have been bathed but I am not free of the red root of you, I am a solar god, I turn to myself for light and warmth, I will warm the blistering red point which you extend without thought. And Asterion stalks 7 children in his maze. The star at the center of a subterranean galaxy. Oracular shut-in. Sickle-moon, sky-jaw. Predator, devouring their breadcrumbs in secret behind them. “Which way now,” cry the boys; “To the right,” tremble the girls; the star child opens his maw. Lo. Lo. History is nothing if not clitoral, and I’ll stroke at it till they call me by name. Spit in my mouth. Forget accordingly. I’ll bear the fruit. All I’m allowed.