Ars Mythos

 

 
 

Like women, birds

          are bad news.

 

They come with cutting

          vanes and steel

 

rachis. Hercules

          shot the Stymphalian,

 

but not before

          they’d shed their swords

 

and wormed their beaks

          into the farmers’ lush

 

bodies. Here every

          suffering will be made

 

visible or at least

          not written out.

 

Consider how after

          Procne’s husband

 

rapes her sister,

          she serves him their son’s

 

flesh. One body

          entering another

 

in reprisal for the same.

          All characters of this myth

 

live the remainder

          of their sufferings as birds.

 

Sister as nightingale—

          symbol of scored

 

silence. The husband

          under the tarnished crown

 

of an orange crested

          hoopoe. Procne

 

transformed into a small

          swallow, the act

 

of consumption. This punishment

          requires she draw

 

into the cavity of her body

          foreign pieces

 

of the world and let

          them live. I reject

 

that I can either consume

          or want to be

 

consumed, but I

          admit I admire

 

the raptor that desires

          another’s body

 

to keep beneath

          her glowing field

                    of iron feathers.

 

 

 

Madeleine Wattenberg’s poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in journals such as Fairy Tale Review, Hermeneutic Chaos, Mid-American Review, Muzzle Magazine, and Ninth Letter. She regularly writes reviews for The Bind and is a PhD student in poetry at the University of Cincinnati.