Meredith McDonough

Birth of the Amazons

Marked by a sign much like Hollywood
the Well of Souls brims with women
murdered by man’s hatred

Not a neat dozen
that could be placed in protective shells
and decorated with red wax on a festival day
but a multitude of eggs
like a salmon brood
multiplying even as I watch

Each woman’s last wishes
tips from the porous membrane
of one cytoplasm to the next
until they roar cacophonously
like the chamber of a conch shell

I coax a single soul from her sisters
by offering her my own skin as succor
I feed her bits of rock and clay
until she feeds herself
first as a serpent then as a bird
then a copy of myself
with veined wings

I leave her for short periods of time
so that her interior voice
is distinct from my own
and her sisters’ lament

She makes adjustments
barreling her chest
so she speaks like a thunder clap
weighting her limbs with tracts of muscle
Gradually she is a fortress
wearing her face as a figurehead

She alters the shoreline
leading her sisters into little tide pools
they evolve in unique patterns
but all end as weapons
She bloods their wings
and names them for flowers

Helen Alexanders Becomes Silver Swan

When I asked the god of war for beauty
he stretched my body like a bow
and searched my line for violence
He took Leda’s scream for my voice
the false feathers from my father for my wings
and plucked my new face
from the puckers of their trammel

He gripped my feet in one hand
my wrists in the other
and set me to flight
obedient as a rubber band

Beauty made in his way
is my pain made into yours

My attempt to be heard
is the shattering of your eardrum
and my insult coated skin
the fire in your husk

He releases me an hour at a time
to rearrange your city of confident men
into my image
a scattered concrete puzzle
asymmetrical and hopeless
as a girl called ugly


Dr. Psycho Becomes Captain Wonder

His dream slips
like butter muslin
from his mind to my skin
as we all dream of power in a new body
our thoughts clench into the artless muscle
of a super hero

I catch the shape of his and wear it
viscous and blood-like
It shapes over me like blown glass
twining into veins
Orbing into eyes
Snaking into fingers
His dream and I are an open field of nerves
begging for skin

A face hovers over my own
caught between the vague shape of
Wonder Woman’s
burnt like a prophecy
on cheese cloth
and his own plaster grimace
as he struggles to be
the woman he desires
and himself in his best-bloomed state

I ask him
with the lips of his dream
made malleable
What is our name?
Captain he says Wonder 

The Duke of Deception Becomes Wonder Woman

He takes dirt
calls it Intelligence Loam or Dehydrated Desire
Its brown makes a girl grimace
He sells a new feminism
The first wives shall have jobs
and then second and subsequent wives
shall raise the children
like anthropologists ne primatologists
They will make macramé DNA
and succumb to their own lessons
in color and texture
unstitching and re-stitching
truthing and not-truthing
new faces for him
or at least new ways
to see him as somehow better
than previously understood

The larger and smaller hands eventually devise
a mask of ovals and hollows
topped with untethered hair
When the duke fits it to his face
they call him mother or darling
He collects the shifting foam
of their misplaced desire
a Morse code of hopeful fingertips
to dutifully decode
into a new set of zip ties and wrangles
He’ll place them around each wrist
in thick shining bronze
like wedding rings he says but better

Meredith McDonough lives and works in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have appeared in Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology, Linebreak, RHINO, Juked, Bone Bouquet, and elsewhere. She was also a finalist for the Jane Lumley Emerging Artist Award in 2016.