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The Legacy of Andromeda
She has only been breathing for seven years;
her Father, the King,
introduces her to the world as
“Andromeda the Beautiful”
and she feels as if she is flying.
The window in her bedroom
overlooks blue tides.
Her eyes are made of
honey and seawater,
her skin an untouched
white sand beach.
Andromeda the Beautiful
resembles no mortal.
She has only been breathing for seven years now,
but the Gods would bow down to her.
The Queen’s voice is
wine-drenched and softened by
summer. She spends hours
brushing, braiding, worshipping
Andromeda’s blonde curls,
the halo her daughter obsesses over.
Cassiopeia instills in Andromeda
the blessing of being beautiful.
Her mother’s words reek of
death and sorrow;
she does not know this yet.
Her daughter is angelic,
her daughter could shame Aphrodite,
yet one day the princess
will wish to set her fair skin aflame.
Andromeda has been breathing for thirteen years;
she’s been beautiful the whole time,
since her red mouth first gasped for summer air.
She’s growing into her role;
like a piano,
majestic and beautiful for her parents to show off
when guests come calling.
she sits complacently in the corner,
devoid of music.
She still looks so beautiful.
Strange men with lingering gazes
adorn her gentle hands with unwanted kisses.
She turns up the corners of her lips,
lets them break like waves,
until the terrifying vacuum of her white teeth is evident.
Cassiopeia always said
Andromeda’s smile was her greatest asset.
She takes long baths after the men
dance from her cooling gaze,
none fitting the high standard for a girl called The Beautiful.
Sometimes, Andromeda feels the crushing weight
of her own appearance. She’ll sneak away
to low turquoise tides.
She meets Daria after breathing for fifteen years.
breathing and living are not the same thing.
Andromeda the Beautiful was taught
to adorn her body with jewelry,
to straighten her shoulders and attract
the most honorable suitor.
Daria is not the most honorable suitor;
she is so much more:
Daria the Brave, Daria the Kind, Daria the Patient,
Andromeda kisses her after she finds a piece
of sea glass,
the same azure shade of the Princess’ eyes.
Her mother doesn’t ask why
Andromeda is uninterested in finding a husband.
Cassiopeia preached the honor of being so blessed;
she figures Andromeda has taken the lesson to heart,
raised her standards higher than the Heavens.
Andromeda does not confirm her mother’s thoughts.
She smiles like lavender and white, foaming waves,
no trace of a grinning animal any longer. She dreams
Cassiopeia tells honoured guests Andromeda
goes to the sea because she is even more
beautiful than mermaids. This misstep
will cost two young girls everything.
Poseidon’s daughters hiss and squirm
at the Queen’s words; they ring of truth,
but their pride has been bent beyond repair.
Their Father sends a Monster,
vile and malignant, to avenge his mermaids.
Young girls in the kingdom
will be brutally mangled lest
the King and Queen give their daughter to the sea,
one last time. They look at their little girl,
who has been breathing for seventeen years now;
Cassiopeia has never seen anyone so beautiful,
she cries for Andromeda’s potential,
spoiled and rotten by wrathful Gods.
I will go
even though, for the first time in her life,
she has something to hold on to,
someone who loves Andromeda the Girl,
not Andromeda the Beautiful.
She slips the sea glass into the seam of her dress,
brushes her hair calmly, like she’s done before many times,
and prepares to die at the sea.
Daria comes calling at the castle,
crying, pleading to see the Princess;
Andromeda’s voice catches in her throat
as the guards haul away the young peasant girl,
When her wrists are tied securely to crumbling rocks,
the sea lapping at her supple feet,
Andromeda looks out at the spectators.
They cry over her beauty;
her parents numbly thank her for a noble sacrifice.
I am not doing this for you.
As the monster approaches,
making a vicious noise,
Andromeda the Beautiful,
the hero of our world,
Andromeda the Beautiful,
our effervescent savior girl.
But before the sea can take her,
rings out a small voice:
Andromeda, my love,
I understand your choice.