Pine by Alex Howe (Lucent Dreaming Issue 9)

Actaeon promises herself she just wants to look,
just wants a glimpse of what womanhood looks like
when it’s doused in dappled light,
when the clear water spills over soft curves
built there by nature herself,
shared in sisterhood with flowering nymphs and
the heady perfume of scented resin.
She hunts out the craving for kinship in her smooth chest
where it cowers behind planes of supple skin
and sets her difference upon it to feast,
impossibility forged in the bones and carrion in its wake.

Actaeon promises herself she just wants to look,
yet still she imagines herself submerged in femininity,
reborn with supple spiced limbs of spun sugar,
or at least jutting hips she could sway as she walked
as though moved independently by the breeze.
At least with lips sewn by cupid himself,
not striving for the glory of Diana, but
any semblance of such sublimity
that she can grasp with fingernails kept clean and long:
the quietest of rebellions from clipped constraints.

Actaeon promises herself she just wants to look,
but the sacred scene clings to her gaze,
not allowing it to falter. Lingering in the liminal:
outside safety a moment too long.
The nymphs see a man’s face, a slander,
paint lust into the shining of her eyes.
The forest fills with their outcry, outrage
echoing in the ears of distant dogs.
The virgin goddess walled in defensive bodies
built to bar outward gazes.

Actaeon promises herself she only wants to look,
Innocent longing and looking missed
by protective eyes that seek intrusion,
corruption between the needles.
Seeing only the stubble that mars her jaw,
calling her a crime scene. Envy refuses to congeal
into syllables, excuses build into towers
then topple;
Submissive silence in the face of divine rage.

Actaeon promised herself she just wanted to look,
but with a scattering of crystal droplets
her sight is contorted, she shifts, transformed:
hands fold and twist into hooves,
dappled hide blossoms on her back and spreads,
ears stretch, nose broadens;
her hopes somewhat realised. When
Diana realises her mistake too late,
the doe stares at her with huge aching eyes,
she disappears between the trees.

Buy issue 9 today.
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram
Alex Howe is a queer poet currently residing in Brighton. Their work has recently appeared in Pilot Press’ Queer Anthology of Wilderness, multiple Eggbox Publishing anthologies, Spit Poet Zine, Just Snails?!, Riot and Roux! and Persephone’s Daughters. They currently write for rrramble blog.
@alexhowewrites |

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