Self-Portrait as Iphis Born According to Her Father’s Wishes

(Dear reader, you may not be as familiar with this one,
so please, bear with me.) In this version,

Iphis is the baby boy her parents prayed for
—at least according to the doctor who helped her

into this world (Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth,
stays silent on this matter). She is named for

her grandfather. A good name for a boy
or a girl, and she keeps her truth in her heart,

in the corner not even the gods can see.
She is allegedly perfect: triple blessed with beauty,

strength, and the fortune of boyhood. When
she is engaged to Ianthe, her mother still delays

the wedding, only to keep her close for
as long as she can. In this version,

Iphis is the one who prays. She sneaks off
during the days before her marriage to play

with nymphs and dryads, ignoring the longing
she feels looking upon them. One night,

Iphis catches a star (a task typically only possible
for the gods, I know) and pulls it in close, feeling

its pale heat as she whispers who she is, staring
in awe at the rhythm only it knows. The star

listens before returning to its spot in the sky
and Iphis stares after it, wondering what

it would feel like to be held like that, to be
looked upon fully, and gazed at in wonder.


Mir L. Cone is a second-year MFA candidate in fiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Born and raised primarily in Florida, they also spent time living and learning in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Their latest writing explores queerness, estrangement, and inheritance.

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