by Harriet Sohmers Zwerling

She came first, the girl, and helped deliver
Apollo, her twin.
Both were beautiful, as were all Zeus’ bastards.

Poor Mama Leto, hounded by Hera, homeless,
wandered the islands with her children.
Still, her babies grew into gods;
he of the sun; she the moon.

A wild girl, fierce, contradictory,
she was a huntress and loved animals, a killer of men and
protector of women in labor, guardian of virgin girls.
Tall and strong; she loved forests and beasts,
lived with deer and dogs and had a female militia
that followed her orders.

The occasional encounter with a male was often fatal
for him. A proud hunter, Aktaion, accidentally
saw her naked and was punished for it.
With poetic flair, she turned him into a stag
and had his own dogs tear him to pieces.

Her hunting pal, Orion the Titan,
presumed too much. They say her twin,
Apollo, jealously killed him.

Created by the perverse Greeks,
she is, of course, immortal.
Could I have danced with her once at the Dutchess,
on Sheridan Square?

Harriet Sohmers Zwerling  is the author of a story collection, Notes of a Nude Model and other pieces. Her new book, entitled Abroad: an expatriate’s diary, based on the journals she kept while living in Paris during the Fifties, is due out in Spring.