Sabrina Saturnalia

          For Nadya Ginsburg—


[S]uch is our injustice, that we transfer the blame of the weakness of our own natures to the person who had not power to retain our love, and discover blemishes in her to excuse our inconstancy.


Easy promises weakening knees,
Venus in her need to be seen means
each weekend she feeds on fiends not one
compromise can keep from eating out

her palm these things even priests believe.
Starlit darling, startling honesty
deceives every paramour whose
heart their want lets haunt hard—strut about—

arterial roads her warmth—sultry
and dark—wanders as whispers do throats.
Motives ulterior, votive deeds
bet on bedding whetted intentions

     motivated to saunter far, deep,
     and nearer her sweet mouth—an eastern


province damp with breath—into which freed
secrets drip. Envious honey trapped—
fed-up flirting with threats of softened,
nightfallen surrogate syrup—shouts

discouraged and preferring, instead,
to venture into what mystery
of wilderness-led light obscures pure
reason, filthies it raw, in fact. What

neon mist haloes heads already
heavy with regret, then blinds flawed men
into leaving—for only a brief
moment forever notices, runs,

     and takes over—other convenient
     women for this other superior


woman even Saturn—intense king
of deadening ends—bends to hers his
own whim, offering princely ransoms
of leaden rings jealousy about

to erupt demands, but amends its
vendetta against to accept. She’s
not vindictive, but wicked genius
manifest. Everybody puts

an abundance of stress on ev’ry-
body else’s restless, ravenous
Ozymandian instinct. Really,
it’s utter insanity—nonsense,

     madness, battiness, smug vainglory’s
     handfuls of rust, palms digging for some


dust—these aims constant seekers who flee
after their own monuments contend
their thirst for fame suggests leads their dumb
quest for a name to victory. Clout

justifies their lust’s lame attempts her
effortless winning of love’s reprieve
ever affronts without so much as
having to lift a manicured left

fingertip. Conquest has its nagging
consequence, meets its match in her heat’s
uninterest. She Aphrodites
either all or ethereal once

     you accept as gone anxieties
     more dangerous than your impatience.

1Lord Byron, interviewed by Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington, at Genoa, April–July, 1823, in Lady Blessington’s Conversations of Lord Byron: Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Ernest J. Lovell, Jr., published at Princeton, New Jersey by Princeton University Press in 2015; pages 108–109.