This story is paired with Chapter XVII of Bulfinch’s Mythology. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 

Women have cried over my confinement
in hell by a husband who loved me so
he could not turn away
could not abide the caveat.
These long dark days
I have not lived yearning for him.
I’m fine.

Did you really believe he wanted me
on earth with him?
The beloved singer?
What would he sing if I were there?
For his song he needed me
buried beneath the crushing ground
star-crossed love that could never vanish
because it never was.
He didn’t desire a woman
bloody with menstrual rituals
whose body once luminous would be taken by time.
Orpheus could not accept such a betrayal.
He wanted me as nymph, not crone.

Even more than age
he feared my voice.
Afraid it would rise above his.
What did he know of suffering and forgiveness?
I was the one severed from the sun
shut in subterranean darkness
barely enough oxygen.

He could have joined me the day I descended.
A knife to his throat, a serpent to his breast.
But he did none of these.
Came to me later by other hands.
I have no use for him.

NBR4CouringtonsmallChella Courington is the author of six chapbooks of poetry and flash fiction. Flying South and Love Letter to Biology 250 are forthcoming. Her poetry and fiction appear in numerous journals including The Los Angeles Review, SmokeLong, and The Collagist. With another writer and two cats, she lives in California.