Constant Melusine

By Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in Fantasy and Fairytales Magazine

The woman is always naked
and there is always a snake
whether it is tester, taster, tamer
whether it is part of her person
in gleaming scale tail
and the snake is colored green.

There is always the undulation
of mystery unveiling and a twisting
this way and that of thoughts revolving
upon themselves, figure eights of intuitions
making patterns
in the what-if dust, the could-be dirt
that is at the woman’s feet
and that has always been.

She uses everything she has
the excrescence of her self
that she emits with sweat.
She gives everything she has
and this giving is always in the nature
of birthing, relying wholly on herself
she labors making something beautiful
out of that which was not.

She loves the things she makes
in an idolatrous way, transfuses them
with her spirit, hallows them with her heart.
She creates them in her image
but it is a mirror image
her face’s remembered reflection
in rippled stream, her proportions limned
by wavering waterfalls with rainbows overarching
inspiring her paints.

And there are always more tears, of joy, of sorrow,
to make more waterfalls and rivers and streams
watery deeps and wellsprings of desire.
She is as much fountain as anything else
and that is why she has been called Naiad, Scylla,
Melancholy, Melusine.

And Melusine, gowned in golden scales
shimmers before the collective eye
in every little Eve.
Hisses of adoration, or accusation
writhe in the wake of her feet–
when she wears them.

She is always with us
constant Melusine
cavorting in a pool the color of milk
beneath red-roofed forest trees.
The trees themselves are red and gold
but Melusine is green, green, always ever-green.


I read the New York Times review of Balanchine’s two-act ballet,”‘Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed this month by the New York City Ballet (Balanchine’s Nocturnal Dream, Tailor Made for June). Mention is made of Mendelssohn’s ‘The Fair Melusina’ opus 32, which got me thinking of one of my favorite enigmatic shape-shifting fairy figures from France, Melusine (aka Melusina). If Melusine is a season, she is summer-time to me. With the first day of summer being tomorrow, the 20th of this month, I am posting this as a prelude-to-summer poem, an “odic” tribute to the fair Melusine.

Links of interest:

The poem Constant Melusine, along with a retelling of the ancient French tale, comparative mythology and recommended reading is included in my book, The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow (and Other Stories).
Wikipedia: Melusine
Mendelssohn’s ‘The Fair Melusine’ opus 32, with images, on YouTube