Empress Theodora, Church of
Mosaic tile, c. AD 547
Haloed in gold tesserae, I
the chapel in
Large sloe eyes, aquiline
jeweled headdress, strands of
cascading down my
Theodora was beautiful of face
and otherwise graceful,
but too short and sallow.
image will last? I danced for the Blues,
Justinian. How else to gain power?
should have married a woman who
had learned the ways of modesty, still a virgin
with perky breasts.
I was a stripper. My father died
when I was five.
sisters and I paraded through the Hippodrome,
hair wreathed with myrtle, our hands
Never has there been a person so enslavedYes,
I had lovers. I simulated sex on stage,
to lust in all its forms.
swan pecking grain between my thighs.
People like to laugh.
It was during this time that
of almost all women too were
In Procopius’ Secret History, I copulated
with hundreds. Who
has the energy? Stripper with
heart of gold, I preferred
The italicized lines are from Prokopios: The
Secret History with Related Texts. Edited and translated by Anthony
Kaldeliss. Hackett Publishing, 2010.
Kat Cameron is the author of two
collections of poetry: Ghosts Still Linger (University of Alberta Press,
2020) and Strange Labyrinth (2015). Her short-story collection The Eater of Dreams (Thistledown Books, 2019) was shortlisted for the Danuta
Gleed Literary Award. She has published poetry and stories in numerous journals
and anthologies, including Beyond Forgetting: Celebrating 100 Years of Al
Purdy, CV2, Descant, Grain, New Forum, Room,
and 40 Below: Volume 2. Her short story “Dancing the Requiem” won Prairie
Fire’s 2018 fiction contest. She lives in Edmonton on Treaty 6 territory
and teaches writing at Concordia University of Edmonton.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan