Is this the face?
by Jo Walton


I was thirteen, covered in zits,
my hair dripped grease down my back;
my neck was much too long;
I slouched to hide my breasts.
My big sister was clever and pretty.
My brothers were jocks.

I saw the goddess in a bowl of milk;
she looked up, smiling.
"Helen," she said, "Helen, this
is a time of heroes. Helen, you
can have what everyone wants;
you shall choose how you shall be remembered."

Did I think when choice was offered
of Atalanta, outrunning her suitors,
Andromeda, charming the dragon,
Artemis, huntress, clever Athene,
Hippolyta fighting at Theseus' side,
Medea the sorceress?

Not for a picosecond. "Goddess,"
I said, leaning forward
so that my breath made the milk stir,
"In three thousand years I want a man
to sell his soul to have one glimpse
of my still legendary beauty."


About the Author:

Jo Walton is the author of four fantasy novels: The King's Peace; The King's Name; The Prize in the Game; and the World Fantasy Award winning Tooth and Claw.  Her next novel is an alternate history mystery called Farthing, which will be published by Tor in the summer of 2006. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied. Her exciting online journal, with word counts and occasional actual content is here.

Poem 2005 Jo Walton. Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, circa 1863.