women know faces

interest me now
that I have one.

Beauty is knowledge tumbled in a martini, garnished with fear.
I have studied legends, sought the forbidden fruit.
Women know faces; the mirror is a critic.

Helen of Troy, loved by men.
Aphrodite, the ideal goddess in a golden breastplate, who
maneuvered the cacophony of love letters.
Born perfect, her charms were as deliberate as a symphony.

Both fought their battles:
Jealous lovers who did not understand
what it meant to be the Goddess of Love,
Helen-- held captive by possessive men
till she learned to escape the prison of her beauty.

I’ve heard that when Menelaus came to kill her,
rage like a volcano, phallic sword in hand
she revealed herself half-naked
and the weapon fell as he kissed her feet.

Like many, I have learned secrets, burned
strawberry incense, hidden all trace of terror.
I have been on fire in scarlet rooms,
bathed in virgin snow; loved.
I have eaten of the golden apple,
and understand the solace of beauty’s tricks.