I am Medusa.

Grief, the hundred screaming snakes of my hair.

I am contagious.

The death that came from me is contagious.

Don’t speak to me. Don’t look at me. The baby in your womb will turn to stone.


Don’t believe me.

I cannot turn anyone to stone.

It is all myth.

The monstrous daughter of brother-sister sea gods. Or perhaps once a beautiful maiden cursed by a jealous Athena. I have read that she was African, a symbol of the divine feminine, a dred-locked mother goddess defiled and turned ugly by a conquering patriarchy.

For days a line of Saul Williams’ slam poetry runs through my head:

a symbol of life and matriarchy

                        severed head


A symbol of life.

I gave my son life. The shadow of Death is so dark, so enormous, that I don’t remember this often enough. I gave our son life. I gave birth to him.


I am Medusa.

Exiled, reviled.

I am made ugly. Grief has stripped me of my skin, exposing tendon and muscle and blood. I remind you of your mortality.

That is the secret, how I turn you to stone.

First I steal the words from your throat.


I find her name on a blog. A network of blogs, really. A thread I can follow in this darkness of grief until I find another like me, and another, and another. A whole blind world of families with invisible children.

On this blog, they call themselves medusas. They say they are a glow in the woods, a cabin of refuge where they invite us in to take off the hat that hides our snakes. A place where we can look one another in the eye without flinching.

I put on this identity like a well-worn shirt. Familiar. Warm. A perfect fit.

During the day I cover my snakes with a hat. I keep in the keening, the wailing, the cries that echo inside my hollow shell. I lower my eyes so others can’t see the sorrow, the exhaustion, the red rims of my lids—not that anyone gets close enough to see. I understand it must be this way. I understand this ugliness is frightening. I am scared all the time.


You avert your eyes. Paralysis creeps through your eyelids, your lips curled in an awkward, sympathetic smile.

You try to hold up a mirror.

You change the subject.

You angle a foot away from me, about to take a step.

Medusa, your silence accuses. Denying me motherhood.

I am Medusa.

How dare you treat me like I am Medusa.

I exist in this limbo of contradictions. Claiming, rejecting. Straining towards the past, yearning for the future. Afraid to remember, afraid to forget. Numb yet drowning in a sea of jumbled emotions. Helpless, strong; darkness, light; yin and yang.

I gave birth to death. Surely that endows me with some mythical powers. Surely that elevates me to the status of some goddess.

I choose Medusa.


© Burning Eye


3 thoughts on “Medusa

  1. Juliet says:

    I’ve been reading your blog lately, since seeing it on Glow. Today, I decided to comment because I’ve been benefiting from it, but not reciprocating. I lost my son, Peregrine Elan, in January when I was 39 weeks pregnant with him. So, yes. I get it. I’m right there with you. And your words get so at the core of it all. They express my grief so well. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for being a place I can turn for words for my pain.

    • Burning Eye says:

      Juliet, I am honored and humbled that my blog can to be such a place for you. The words of others have so benefitted me, and I only hope I can give back, through my own writing, just a little of that comfort I have found in that of others. Thinking of you and your baby boy…

  2. I absolutely get the living in limbo of contradictions. I blogged about the exact same thing. Longing for life to be normal again, but resisting everything that *could* make things ‘normal’ again. I wanted a different normal. One that my little girl was a part of. I hope you can find that – the place where your baby is part of life every day. I’m still looking for it.

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