Diana Remembers Actaeon

“Now they are all around him, tearing deep
Their masters’ flesh, the stag that is no stag;
And not until so many countless wounds
Had drained away his lifeblood, was the wrath,
It’s said, of chaste Diana satisfied.”

– Ovid, “Diana and Actaeon”

The silence after screaming,
The dogs’ pleasure in the kill,
Their bloody mouths smiling, sick with delight.
My justifications to myself
As I pulled on my discarded dress.

I told myself then,
He deserved his fate.
Fair Actaeon, young Actaeon –
His possessing face, his certainty,
Deserved punishment.

If a goddess would not, than who?

But now, when I see the deer run,
Deer who never see blood, do not understand it,
I often see his eyes on me, his eyes afraid,
Locked on beauty, locked on death –
Then ripped to pieces.

[Brittany Warman is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and is currently working on her master’s degree in folklore at George Mason University. Her creative work has been published or is forthcoming in Jabberwocky MagazineCabinet des FeesMirror DanceMagpie MagazineFineryEMG-Zine, and The Sarah Lawrence College Review. Her website is here and she journals at Briar Spell.]

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