Logen Cure is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Still, Letters to Petrarch, and In Keeping. She’s an editor for Voicemail Poems. She curates Inner Moonlight, a monthly reading series at The Wild Detectives in Dallas. She serves as an English faculty member at Tarrant County College and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She lives in DFW with her wife and daughter. Learn more at www.logencure.com.
There’s no solid description of Grendel,
but I could imagine
his swampy musk, his breath hot
with rage, drawn from darkness
toward Herot, all the men singing,
their voices thick with mead.
I also know what joy sounds like
when it can never belong to you.
My teacher said monsters
make heroes but I figured
I knew guys like Beowulf,
all talk and toothy smiles,
daredevil for glory.
He beat his chest, claimed
he wouldn’t even need a weapon.
I hoped he’d get eaten.
My classmates celebrated
Grendel’s severed arm swinging
bloody from the rafters.
Villains, teacher said,
are integral to the plot.
I’d never read a monster with a mother.
Grendel’s mother is nameless
but her grief-ridden howl
haunted my dreams. Beowulf entered
her lair under the lake
and I was breathless, imagining
ethereal light and still water,
how her sorrow must have echoed there.
I knew she couldn’t win in a story like this,
but I loved her for coming close.
You have to get the ratio right, Dad’s voice clear
despite frustration. Ease off that clutch,
give ‘er some gas—damn!
The eighteenth time the car heaved
its bucking death rattle, it was decided
my mother should teach me.
You can feel it, she said. You’re just going to know.
How? I cranked the ignition again
and again, What am I supposed to feel?
Windows down, shoes off,
the mercy of the A/C silenced—
I longed for the shade of bleachers
on the far side of the sweltering stadium parking lot.
I inhaled, drew back on the clutch,
let the rising hum of gas to engine vibrate
inside my ribs, the car rolled, coughed once,
gained wonderful momentum until
I felt the strain, the need
for release and without thinking
hit second gear.