How Pretty You Are

An invocation to sexual potency inserted into a likely lacuna in Petronius' Satyricon

"It's not you, babe, it's me!" And so I parted from Chrysis and promised to
restore my body to a state of use. Forgoing a bath, I had a light massage, then
ate some onions and some unsauced snails' necks, washed down with a red
spot of wine. Then I strolled a little and went to bed, shunning Giton – one
cannot take a boy to bed if a disappointed lady is already waiting on one's

Morning, and I woke up feeling all of a piece. I went down to the plane tree
grove and there, beneath the trees, I waited for Chrysis. Soon she approached,
with an old crone shadowing her like an elder ego. Chrysis said, "Ah, my
filigree love, is your gorgeous size to engorge for me today?" Then the old
woman drew out a string of five colours from her dress and tied it round my
neck. Then she spat into her palm, mixed it with dirt, and with her third
finger, daubed some of the mixture to mark my forehead:

Go, o hesitant spirit,
rise up And sex this cold-
come man To smells
of cunt – Say, "Pussy,
How pretty you are,"
and bounce
Like success, but tender.
Gush and quiver
When comes the time
for quivering, For every part
leads somewhere else
And white horses charge
to battle in salt and wave
and Venture...

When she had finished her spell, she instructed me to spit thrice on the
ground, and to place three pebbles into my pocket over which she read
another spell. Then she tested whether her work was done by touching me
alive, just on my loins.

Two Imitations of Tibullus

Unkind Rumours

Melissa sleeps around, says Rumour:
      Why can't I blink my ears, and not hear!
Whispers form an unreal me, and I am tears.
      Why word me into pain? Have peace.

On My Love

At long last, Rumour, go tell all,
    a sea of tongues let roar my love.
I shan't filter my mails with a fire-wall:
    yes we met, and loved, unmasked.

melissafloresgrew up in Ecuador and came to England to study economics and development. She is still based in the UK, though is currently working in the field for an NGO in Ethiopia. Writing about poetry and translating Classical bits are both sources of great pleasure to her.

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