Monday, April 20, 2020

Margot Douaihy


Yep, I’m a sea witch. I tricked Ariel.
But don’t ask me to apologize.
Don’t call me a villain. I’m the last realist left.
I magicked merfolk into polyps. So what?
King Triton knew. You have to fight dirty
to get through. Flotsam & Jetsam,
my electric legs, my true brood, understood.
I might be a crime boss, at least I’m not rude.

Last memory before I died: Heat.
Flames ate my chest as the spar
skewered my spine. Deadwood,
I thought it’d break like a beak
weak from a lifetime of lies. It didn’t.
Plasma gushed where my three hearts
hummed. The deeper the cavity
the harder to plug, like desire,
like the echo of my love,
buried in the sea cave
carved so low
gravity loses track.
Cartography can’t catch it.
No trap can map it.

I invented underwater lipstick!
I was the first artist to store hearts in jars!
I’m the only sea witch in history
who could boil blood into stone!
I bit lightning to the bone!
Rode electricity to the node!
Ariel begged for legs! I gave her legs!
Merfolk wouldn’t know gratitude
if it slapped them in their scales!
I floated graveyards so ghost ships
could sail! I'm the last hope of hydrogen-
hydrogen-oxygen! My mother is Mad Science!
Don’t dress me in that trope! It won’t fit!

Say my name. Say my name.
In Ursula hides an urge.
I live in whatever world I want. Sea birds
scream on deck as my black hair traps jetstreams.
Thunderclap ripped birth into my body,
like surgery in reverse. Purple killed white
as I spilled myself through my tight
wedding dress.

Wind blows eyes open, fire signs the scroll.
Can you blame me? I wanted to play,
they wouldn’t let me. It was my turn
to try the trident, stir the sea;
water rewound like a redacted vow.

Charybdis flung the gold rings back to ore.
Every sundial lies. Only a whirlpool
can tell time, devour hours.
Haha, precious Ariel! Counting seconds before dusk.
Days nest into weeks, months into years.
Yes, time is invisible, but the end stills pulls
her, me, all of us, like an underwater waterfall.

I died, but it was not for naught.
As the sea burned, my death fed
eye-less nits burrowed in silt.
Now I’m marooned on lunar sand
so taut & dry I can’t cry.
I miss ocean, my hammock of tide,
coral reef under feet.
I miss the tickle of gills.
Crying underwater is underrated.
I hope Ariel tattoos fins on her wrist
so she never forgets the price of fame.

From here I watch it all spin—
Earth’s secret moons, coronet of sun.
I know now why the globe is a ball—
orbs can roll away, always stay lost.

Margot reads "Autobiography of Ursula":

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Margot confesses: "Does a criminal differ from a villain? Which one has more cultural currency for women? Watching The Little Mermaid with my niece, I wondered if isolation drove Ursula's depravity. My poem, divided into eight sections representing the witch's limbs, imagines her motivations, contours, and contradictions."

MARGOT DOUAIHY, PhD, is the author of “Scranton Lace” and “Girls Like You,” both published by Clemson University Press. Her true-crime poetry project, Bandit Queen: The Runaway Story of Belle Starr, is forthcoming with Clemson University Press. Douaihy’s work has been featured in PBS NewsHour, The Colorado Review, North American Review, The Tahoma Review, The Wisconsin Review, and The Petigru Review. She is the editor of the Northern New England Review.

1 comment:

linhelen said...

Love this! Especially VIII.Thank you.