When Pandora Burns


Created as a foil for mankind
this beautiful mess
is — in truth — a beautiful box.

A lacquered confection
of sculpted curves
and clever spaces

containing centuries of man’s demons,
her hollows bruised 
with man’s barbs and fears.

Call her a witch.
Call her liar.
Call her ruin, the Great Fall.

It will not be her fault
when she opens her mouth 
to let out your plagues.

She is tired of harboring 
all of mankind’s evil
in stories of open boxes

and bites of fruit.

As if a woman cannot crave
knowledge or curiosity, share
in humanity or respect.

Woman: of man,
a possession by design,
a gift from the gods

to vex when mettle eyes 
hold mirrors
to man’s self-doubt.

A Joan or Sita
to be purified
by Prometheus’ fire. 

Her truth won’t die
out with the flames.
It lingers in smoke 

and the set eyes of sisters, 
as her charred box stains 
the hands of men like blood.  

Natalie Downey is a writer and artist living in San Francisco, California. Her current work explores narrative and myth through the written word, watercolor and mixed media. Her fiction has been previously published in Full of Crow.

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