dottie higgs


Before her head reeked of scales and dripped venom,

her beauty made her a target.

Thousands flocked to the temple

just to get a glimpse of her.

It’s not her fault that the sea god,

wet, and sticky with seaweed,

saw her glittering like a prize

and then hunted her like prey.

As she lay bleeding on the floor,

among the gritty sand and shells on temple marble,

she knew her beauty was her curse.

Athena’s intervention was the gift;

she gave Medusa weaponized flirtations and gazes

to hunt men like the prey she used to be.


The stories talk about the tragedy

of Medusa’s transformation, but

women know the real curse was before it.

Her beauty left her vulnerable—approachable.

Now she’s a weapon; she will go down fighting

if necessary. She won’t smile and nod like

another pretty face or un-plucked flower.

She’s a hornets’ nest tired of being kicked around.

That’s why we paint her crown of snakes

over the doorways of our

women’s safe houses and shelters.

That’s why her name means,

“Guardian,” and “Protectress.”


That’s why she spared the men her teeth

but never her eyes.

Her gaze traces the clouds of those

dark lonely streets and

even those brightly lit havens.

If you’re quiet, sometimes you’ll

hear a hiss, or see a flash of green,

and know that it’s her,

waiting for the guilty men and hunters

over doorways of dusty marble…





Dottie Higgs is a writer currently studying English, creative writing, and French at Mississippi State University. This is her first publication.