I never had the power to transform,
but merely to reveal what lies within,
what lurks beneath the skin.

It wasn’t I who turned
the crew of Odysseus into swine:
the swine were there,
concealed in human flesh.
To say I liberated them
would be to overstate the case.
It’s not for me to judge
what’s foul or fair,
but to reflect the face
beneath the mask
as in a looking-glass.

To turn swine into pearls
would call for powers
I cannot profess.
I am the mirror in the cave,
awaiting the possessed –

Jena Woodhouse


Jena Woodhouse is the author/ translator/ co-compiler of eleven book and chapbook publications across several genres, six of them poetry titles, including On the Windswept Bridge (Pocket Poets, end of 2020) and News from the Village: Travels in Rural Greece (Picaro Poets 2021). Her poems have received awards and been shortlisted three times in the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2020, 2015, 2013).

Listen to Jena reading Circe (1:05)

© 2021 text and audio