When I Was Philomela

Originally published Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Issue 166, 2015

I dreamt once that I was Lavinia, or Philomela. I had no hands and no tongue, so really I was Lavinia, but somehow I was Philomela. The Blade had cut my tongue sheer off, close to the trembling Root. The mangled Part still quiver’d on the Ground. 

My fathers and my brothers had brought me to this place to be desecrated and mutilated. In the casino of the patriarchy I was just another chip to be exchanged. I was just another figure to be gazed upon. I was just another prize to be won, another state to be conquered. He sailed across the oceans of my limbs and landed his ships on my chest, his armies pillaged my neck with unwanted kisses and my breasts with course touches. My screams went as unheard as those of all my far off sisters as the army’s captain claimed me as his own, planted his flag into the earth of my womanhood. My screams ended when he took a knife to my mouth and my hands. 

I was Philomela trapped and working my loom with my bloody, deformed limbs, while a crimson river of warm blood like a bubbling fountain flowed between my rosed lips. 

I was stripped of words and

I was Philomela crying tears of coloured thread, choking on it, drowning in it. 

I was Philomela trapped and desperate, reaching out for my sister. We need our sisters, of body and of blood, the sisters to our souls.

We need our sisters to give us back our words, to be our tongues and hands. We need our sisters, our unwavering loves, our forests to stand against the cruel axes of fathers, of lovers, of sons. We need our fellow birds to leave this world that was born for us, of us, and taken from us. Bird-women, let us climb into the sky and find strength in the slipstreams of each others wings. Let us reclaim the world by first taking the sky. 

Image credit: pinterest.com


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