Medusa, Bodhisattva

This entry is part 6 of 22 in the series Alternate Histories


The Medusa of legend
actually started out as
a bodhisattva-in-training.
Like Avalokiteśvara
with eleven faces,
she aspired to sprout
a forest of little headlets
atop her head, so as never
to fail to meet a believer’s
imploring gaze.
But she felt compassion
for the stone-workers,
& worried how men
would render her
in relief carvings on cave walls
or chisel her in the round
from soft marble.
She was stirred by the hiss
of insense sticks, the censer
a-bristle: it sounded
like bliss, that extinction.
If the goal was to end
the cycle of rebirth,
she reasoned, why not
reincarnate as something
utterly immune to desire?
Let the others say
they’d forestall nirvana
until every blade of grass
attained liberation.
Medusa vowed not
to leave a stone

Series Navigation← The Origin of the EarAir: A Grievance →

6 Replies to “Medusa, Bodhisattva”

    1. Hey, thanks! I wondered if anyone would remember that piece.

      I seem to be writing a lot of past-tense poems in a mythological vein lately. Probably almost time to declare it a new series.

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