Petroushka

by Felicity Yeoh

She had been engaged to talk to us about work-life balance.

To guide us onto our pedestals, blindfolded Minervas

Holding our twin pans in one hand,

To whisper instructions – compensate, adjust, find the equilibrium and hold it –

As we sweated, uncomfortable in heavy robes

Unsteady and uncertain.

 

She stood at the front of the room like the figurehead of a ship

And like a prophetess, heavy-lidded eyes burdened with knowledge,

Explained like one who has seen and understands

The benefits and importance of the orgasm.

 

A hand laid on the carved box we would later find out contained a working relic for pleasure,

One finger sheathed in an articulated silver talon.

 

From a corner of the room, the one who had lost control of the situation started forward, stopped, understood at least that to interrupt would be to call divine wrath upon himself.

Squirming in our chairs we one by one dropped our gaze, momentarily blind.

And attempted to be mature: focused on her grey hair, slack upper arms and heavy unsmiling jaw.

 

‘Come and come and come and come.’

 

She stopped. Thrilled and contemptuous, we applauded as she made her passage through the crowded room, Medusa-curls shifting in a localised storm, the clicking heavy silver, skirts swirling around her like waves and her swing of her hips the rhythm of the sea,

And every man fell back before her.