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