Poseidon was easier than most. He calls himself a god, but he fell beneath my fingers with more shaking than any mortal. He wept when my robe fell from my shoulders. I made him bend his back for me, listened to his screams break like waves. We defiled that temple the way it should be defiled, screaming and bucking our way from corner to corner. The bitch goddess probably got a real kick out of that. I'm sure I'll be hearing from her. She'll give me nightmares for a week or so; that I can handle. Or she'll turn the water in my well into blood; I'll scream when I see it, and that will be that. Maybe my first child will be born with the head of a fish. I'm not even sure it was worth it, Poseidon pounding away at me, a madman, losing his immortal mind because of the way my copper skin swells in moonlight. Now my arms smoke and itch. Hard scales cover my wrists like armour. C'mon Athena, he was only another lay, and not a particularly good one at that, even though he can spit steam from his fingers. Won't touch him again. Promise. And we didn't mean to drop to our knees in your temple, but our bodies were so hot and misaligned. It's not every day a gal gets to sample a god, you know that. Why are you being so rough on me? I feel my eyes twisting, the lids crusting over and boiling, the pupils glowing red with heat. Athena, woman to woman, could you have resisted him? Would you have been able to wait for the proper place, the right moment, to jump those immortal bones? Now my feet are tangled with hair, my ears are gone. My back is curving and my lips have grown numb. My garden boy just shattered at my feet. Dammit, Athena, take away my father's gold. Send me away to live with lepers. Give me a pimple or two. But my face. To have men never again be able to gaze at my face, growing stupid in anticipation of that first touch, how can any woman live like that? How will I be able to watch their warm bodies turn to rock when their only sin was desiring me? All they want is to see me sweat. They only want to touch my face and run their fingers through my . . . my hair is it moving?
Ethel Freeman's body sat for days in her wheelchair outside the New Orleans Convention Center. Her son Herbert, who had assured his mother that help was on the way, was forced to leave her there once she died. Gon’ be obedient in this here chair, gon’ bide my time, fanning against this sun. I ask my boy, and all he says is Wait. He wipes my brow with steam, says I should sleep. I trust his every word. Herbert my son. I believe him when he says help gon’ come. Been so long since all these suffrin’ folks come to this place. Now on the ground ’round my chair, they sweat in my shade, keep asking my son could that be a bus they see. It’s the sun foolin’ them, shining much too loud for sleep, making us hear engines, wheels. Not yet. Wait. Lawd, some folks prayin’ for rain while they wait, forgetting what rain can do. When it come, it smashes living flat, wakes you from sleep, eats streets, washes you clean out of the chair you be sittin’ in. Best to praise this sun, shinin’ its dry shine. Lawd have mercy, son, is it coming? Such a strong man, my son. Can’t help but believe when he tells us, Wait. Wait some more. Wish some trees would block this sun. We wait. Ain’t no white men or buses come, but look—see that there? Get me out this chair, help me stand on up. No time for sleepin’, cause look what’s rumbling this way. If you sleep you gon’ miss it. Look there, I tell my son. He don’t hear. I’m ’bout to get out this chair, but the ghost in my legs tells me to wait, wait for the salvation that’s sho to come. I see my savior’s face ’longside that sun. Nobody sees me running toward the sun. Lawd, they think I done gone and fell asleep. They don't hear Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Ain’t but one power make me leave my son. I can’t wait, Herbert. Lawd knows I can’t wait. Don’t cry, boy, I ain’t in that chair no more. Wish you coulda come on this journey, son, seen that ol’ sweet sun lift me out of sleep. Didn’t have to wait. And see my golden chair?