Today we have been damage wrapped
in ribbons: silk pulled tight across our cracks,
satin bows blooming over yawning spaces.
Bundled in apologies, we try not to fall apart.
Today we have been Leda, Cassandra,
stitched skins. Today we have been wreckage.
Man is God, they say. Man is the swan, Zeus,
Here is Cassandra:
refusal sparks in her mouth; he touches
the scorch marks upon his lips and curses her
Woman opens her mouth and her voice
is birdsong: beautiful, incomprehensible, a language
not understood by mankind.
Woman opens her mouth and she is caged.
Sing now, little bird, sing
from where they locked you up, from where
each plea tastes more like ashes,
more like trial by fire and looming
more like key rings and stilettos
you only wear because the heels are sharp enough
to be weapons, more like it wasn’t my fault,
I never asked for this. Little bird,
they will cut out your tongue and call you Philomela.
Incidentally, female nightingales are mute;
only the male of the species sings.
Little nightingale, he will take your lament,
he will twist its words and his voice
will be the one they hear.
Medusa was once so beautiful she tempted
God—I mean to say she tempted Man,
and was punished for it: a face terrible to behold,
hair of venomous serpents, eyes that could turn flesh
into stone. Her blood, when spilled, birthed
a horned serpent that fed off corpses.
Woman’s mouth opens and she is monster.
Take her head, take
her head, cut her down,
quickly, before she bites.
She is grotesque, she is nightmare, but still they
imprison her and call her weakling.
Girl, if we are monsters, let us be lethal.
Take this skin,
write your name on it, slip it
over your shoulders again.
Take this skin,
this terrible, these teeth,
and make them part of you.
Some Greeks believed that Athena was protecting Medusa
when she gave her the power to transform any man
who set eyes on her
Tell him, my blood boils with the rage
of a thousand generations.
Tell him, the sight of me is enough to kill.
Tell him, touch me and I will turn your skin
Today you have been solidarity, you have been
wrath, you have been woman. You are all that
and more. After all, stone crumbles.
You are everlasting.
Martina Dominique Dansereau is a girl-aligned (gender)queer writer from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada, who spends the majority of xyr time blogging, snuggling snakes, and crying over slam poetry. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. For over a year now xe has taken up performing spoken word at the Vancouver Poetry Slam and other venues, and xe has work published in the Rising Phoenix Review. Xe is passionate about anti-oppression, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, and going on midnight walks in the rain.