Ariadne Explains Why She's Mixed Up with a Boy like Theseus


This poem from Poetry Daily by Anne Babson delights me.  It marries bull riding to Greek mythology.  Can it be better?

Ariadne Explains Why She's Mixed Up with a Boy like Theseus

Some say it weren't nothin' but a ranch hand in
A wrestling mask, but I know better. Daddy made
Me sweep up its patties, and I'll tell you what: that
Weren't no wrestler. He sure was a monster bull. 

I ain't told no one this before, it's nasty, but
I'd take my knittin' down there some days just to watch
It flex and gore the college boys they sent us up
From Athens. Any country fool knows college boys

Caint bull ride, but some promoter sent them to die,
And it was, well, I caint say what it was and be
A lady, but I'll just say this much—I liked it.
The sweet peachy-golden on their frat boy arms,

The quiver of their pouty little lips until
The horn sounded and the gate broke open, the jeans,
Tight jeans, stuffed with muscle and the untouchable,
And then that Minotaur would buck, one time, two times,

Maybe even three—and Joe College would eat dirt.
I knit a whole lot of booties for my Mee-Maw,
I'll tell you what. Nobody made it eight seconds.
Then Theseus—everybody calls him Scooter—

Daddy sent him down there while I was fixin' to
Start a new row, and I gasped and dropped my needles.
The simplest way I can say it—I saw a star,
A college boy who ought to be a rodeo

Hero, and before he mounted, I slipped him
My best ball of camelhair angora.
Scooter can sure tie a fast knot, I'll tell you what.
The Minotaur bucked, and bucked, and bucked, and bucked.

For the only time, I heard the second horn.
Eight seconds flat—and with scorin' the bull and all,
He beat, well, he beat every cowboy for all time.
My daddy gave him the trophy. It tore him up

But good, I'll tell you what, and Scooter—that is the
Boy y'all call Theseus—he's run off with me to
Naxos County for the statewide competition.
And y'all can save your breath, just like I told Daddy.

I know he ain't gonna stay with me. College boys
Get over girls like me, but there are just dangers
A girl has got to brave—straddle them, see how long
She can grab them with her thighs and float above them. 

Anne Babson

The Iowa Review
Fall 2012


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