Katie Hartsock

Head of a Woman with the Horns of a Ram
August 23, 2023 Hartsock Katie

Head of a Woman with the Horns of a Ram


I used to curse the sidewalk ice
when I walked downhill after midnight,
my voice a bachelor in the quiet
wedded to itself, with a dog


warming its feet. A dog who never hunted,
never bit into deer or fox
felled. After Actaeon was changed
into a buck and his own dogs ran him down—
he knew them each by name, dozens


of them, names like Daisy, and Slayer, too—
Ovid says he made a sound no man
would make, and no stag either.
Today I went to my campus office


for the first time in such a long time, I even saw
a few students, and we laughed, almost
enchanted by each other’s bodies: human,
fully ourselves, outside a screen.
I have two copies of The Metamorphoses there,


and one has spent the pandemic by the window.
Same edition, same cover—Head of a Woman
with the Horns of a Ram—but that one
has been lying out, changing in the sun,


bleached purple like a bruise almost healed.
Both girls have their cheeks to their shoulders,
as if to soothe some itch, but they can’t tell
where just yet. Both girls are in trouble,
but one has been lonelier.

Katie Hartsock is the author of two poetry collections, Wolf Trees (2023) and Bed of Impatiens (2016), both from Able Muse Press.  Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ecotone, New Criterion, RHINO, Birmingham Poetry Review,  and elsewhere. She teaches at Oakland University in Michigan, where she lives with her husband and two young sons.