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Unfettering Philomela by Christine Butterworth-McDermott


Editor’s note: Oh the traps that are laid for protagonists in fairy tales! That’s what this poem conjures up for me. It also makes me think of Andersen’s “The Nightingale.” It’s a lovely spell of a poem.



Bird, girl, you perch upon words

as if they were something solid

like trees instead of shimmering notes

of nothing. You have yet to learn

that whether they are kind or unkind

matters little. Betrayal is just an exposure

of rotted wood beneath auburn leaves.

Comforting nests, too, may only be

made of twigs. Storms blow things apart,

whether weak or well made. What have

you then—as you look outward to vast sky?

It is too simple to insist on you soaring

on wings magnificently unfolded—for yours

have been clipped and pinned. You’re not sure

how they work. And so, I suggest you burst

into flame instead: regold your glory outward.

Become a purification of your own making,

a sharpening of beak, an opening of throat,

sing a keening or a calling, let it be yours,

and yours alone. Whatever cage they wish

to lock you in, whatever trap they’ve laid

or sprung, never let the weaving cease,


never let them hold your tongue.

***

To learn more about the mythical Philomela, you can go HERE.



Christine Butterworth-McDermott’s latest collection of poetry is Evelyn As: Poems (2019). Her poetry has been published in such journals as Alaska Quarterly Review, The Normal School, The Massachusetts Review, and River Styx, among others. She is the founder of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, an online venue for fantasy and fairytale (GINGERBREADHOUSELITMAG.COM).


Image from Pixabay

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