Athena Holds Up a Mirror to Strength

Girl, you best stop setting yourself on fire,

you may be the phoenix,

but these bones aren’t kindling

to keep others warm—

your spine isn’t a bridge

you need to burn,

and you aren’t a consequence,


remember who you are.


Woman, you a hundred rivers,

each one gathering itself

carefully, unhurried,

unhampered, considerate

of its own current

and nothing beyond that—

this is your magic,

steady and certain,

heart open

but hands full of knives,

Queen of Wands:

remind them who you are.


Goddess, you are both roots

and sky, a gentle hymn

of wolves, keen and hungry,

but a universe of free. Your chest

holds a constellation

of reasonable lives

rearranged by passion,

and this holy crusade

has made you a heretic,

but your blood sings for it,

this legion of flaws, mouth reddened

by your own sins—

High Priestess,

tell them who you’ve been.


(Editors’ Note: “Athena Holds Up a Mirror to Strength” is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast, Episode 34A.)


Ali Trotta

Ali Trotta is a poet, editor, dreamer, word-nerd, and unapologetic coffee addict. Her poetry has appeared in Uncanny, Fireside Fiction, and Cicada magazines, as well as in The Best of Uncanny from Subterranean Press. A geek to the core, she’s written television show reviews for Blastoff Comics. These have included Agent Carter, The Flash, and Supergirl. Additionally, for Blastoff, she has written some personal essays. Ali’s always scribbling on napkins, looking for magic in the world, and bursting into song (toss a coin to your Witcher!). When she isn’t word-wrangling, she’s cooking, baking, hugging an animal, or pretending to be a mermaid. She’s on Twitter as @alwayscoffee, and you can also read her blog at Three of her poems, including two for Uncanny, were Rhysling Award nominees.

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