Published on Academy of American Poets (

Self-Portrait as Artemis

It wasn’t long before I rose
into the silk of my night-robes

and swilled the stars
and the beetles

back into sweetness—even my fingernails
carry my likeness, and I smudge

the marrow of myself
into light. I whisper street-

car, ardor, midnight
into the ears of the soldier

so he will forget everything
but the eyes of the night nurse

whose hair shines beneath
the prow of her white cap.

In the end, it is me
he shipwrecks. O arrow.

My arms knot as I pluck
the lone string tauter.

O crossbow. I kneel. He oozes,
and the grasses and red wasp

knock him back from my sight.
The night braids my hair.

I do not dream. I do not glow.


Copyright © 2015 by Tarfia Faizullah. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“We recover ourselves through the stories of others. Homer refers to Artemis as ‘Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals.’ In myself, I see her wildness and her desire to weigh both vengeance and compassion.”
Tarfia Faizullah


Tarfia Faizullah

Tarfia Faizullah was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Texas. She is the author of Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf Press, 2018) and Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014). She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Date Published: 2015-02-26

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