Indoles and Aphrodite


Aphrodite was whipped from the sea, spun from the foam of Oranos / Uranus.
In science class, I’m laughing at Uranus / your anus. Now, I’m cornered in timeout.
He wants me when I’m fresh, for my curves. He wants me when I’m fermented,

for my composting capabilities. I can grow something made from him.
But the daughter would be born with the worms, and it doesn’t take much for
worms to molt into Medusan snakes. Aphrodite was worshiped as a goddess

of seafaring. She could have served as the sole god
of the sea. Fuck Poseidon. With Aphrodite as sea queen, the sea would be
less briny. We wouldn’t mistake fish shit for sand. We wouldn’t mistake coral for bones.

It would smell like jasmine and the sweat of lovers. Brimming with the tears of
unwanted men who continued forcing themselves in.
With Aphrodite as sea queen, the ocean would be the sailor’s graveyard.

With Aphrodite as sea queen, it would be a world of blotchy sirens—red and blue and endless
masculine wailing. The ocean, a vat of churning love potion; the ocean, sharp
rocks mistaken for pearls and comets thrust from the sky. “Comets are the reason

the earth has water and dirt,” the science teacher says. Next, he lectures us
on the chemistry of indoles. “At low pressure, indoles smell of jasmine.”
In Sparta, Thebes, and Cyprus, Aphrodite was worshiped as a goddess

of war. Imagine war actually fought for love, rose thorns for
bullets, shed petals for blood, Cupid’s bow for the killing blow. Imagine
soldiers who don’t push conquered women against walls, make a weapon

out of their belts. After wars and sea storms, Aphrodite became known
for love and fertility. Now, she is the faded tips of waves
cuffing crags like lace. Now she holds a whisper of what

she was supposed to be, like a breath kept in that ferments with time. But if she is still
connected with the dead of Delphi, I think she’ll find
me. She will tell me it will be alright. She will blow my bruises into buds of amethyst.

Her eyes will skim the pearl of my belly and say,
“at high pressure, indoles smell of shit.”


Lakshmi Sunder is a first-year at Northwestern University. Lakshmi enjoys writing poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction about intersectional identity and dystopias that reflect reality. She has been recognized by the YoungArts Foundation, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, The Adroit Journal, and The New York Times Learning Network.

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Indoles and Aphrodite

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