I'd tell her that I know that she didn't look this this. That caricatures are always off. Then I'd get a little serious: I'd say that I'm sorry that they drained her body of one side of its blood. It's embarrassing that anyone would demonize anyone else for sexiness. I'd tell her that it's okay to cause a boner-- no shame in that. I'd stop myself and ask her: is that what they meant about you turning men to stone? I'd hope that we'd laugh together.
I wouldn't ask her if she was wearing a short skirt when she was raped or if she knew that the sickest of people would say that she might have deserved it. But I'd want to know the answer, and to stop myself from asking, I'd put a book in my mouth. And I'd keep it there until she told me to take it out.
I'd ask her if she knows what Freud said about her representing all that is taboo. I'd say, "Are you really the mature female genitals?" and "Were those snakes your missing female penis?" I'd hope that we'd laughed together over this too.
I would thank her for serving as a symbol of creative and artistic vision. I'd ask her if the story was true: that when she looked at the grass in the sea, did she turn to coral? Does she believe that we can kill things into art? I'd ask her if she thought that art is a small death--la petite mort? I'd say do you think that art is like an orgasm-- a place where the world stops?
I'd tell her that people say her story is the story of what happened to women's voices for so many years: her story is a symbol for silence, stillness. I'd tell her, I'm sure she knows this. I'd ask her if she knew how many poems she was the cause of. Then I'd read her my favorite parts of Sylvia Plath's "Medusa."
In any case, you are always there,
Tremulous breath at the end of my line,
Curve of water upleaping,
To my water rod, dazzling and grateful,
Touching and sucking.***
I'd ask her what it's like to be part of so many women, but not without being nervous about looking her in the eye.