In Veronese, in Tiepolo,
it is a festive occasion —
well-dressed companions wave gracefully
as Europa twists round to them,
leaving on the back of a white bull,
her garments fluttering above the foam.
How often the myth of rape —
the carrying off, the invasion —
has been festooned with flowers,
a sparkling atmosphere, a picnic lunch.
Omnipotence takes what disguise it will,
what woman it fancies,
then makes for a deserted shore to enact
that consummately unpaintable moment.
Possessed by pain, disgust,
she cannot breathe or see.
‘Oh lucky girl!’ the bull-god snorts,
jubilant, about to leave.
Europa awakens herself to breath and sight:
she will command the images that hold
her truth, will speak and shape them
fiercely, patiently, unrelentingly.
© Diane Fahey