After the painting Morgan Le Fay by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys
Her hair is the color of the spots
on the leopard skin draped
across her like a sari.
Serpents and winged dragons
around the gold hem of her dress.
Once when I was a little girl
I took my mother’s 70’s green velvet
tablecloth, a pewter lamp shaped
like a genie’s and an old book
my grandmother had given to me
that was printed in 1893,
and I went into the woods
behind our house
to do magic
to be Morgan Le Fay.
I safety-pinned the tablecloth
around me like a cape
and I found the place where
the sparkly rock rose from the earth
like the sword from the stone.
My hair was dishwater blonde
and cut by my mother, so always
a bit crooked, my bangs
like the slanted edge of a pan flute.
This painting was in the big art book
in the living room bookshelf—
above the Ray Price, Jim Reeves,
and Roy Clark albums. It was wide
like an album.
I had looked at Morgan so much
the book automatically
fell open to her.
A cauldron blazes in the background,
the fire shadowed against
the brown wall, stark—like the artist
etched it with a nail.
The old book was called Little Lady Val.
On the cover was a picture
of a very proper young lady
with golden curls, her arm
firmly clasped by a boy in blue
showing her the way.
I stood on the sparkly rock
with these two women
and hurriedly—so I wouldn’t be caught—
I began to make my life.