WusGood: “What’s your fav thing bout being Slytherin?
Rachel: “My Slytherin Girl Gang”
The Mother Riddle
Like finding a rogue shard from a long ago broken glass with the tender bottom of your foot
you realize that you haven’t talked to your mother in what must be months now
and you can only manage to feel sort of bad about not noticing sooner,
you still reach out
you make the attempt
and 3 weeks go by with no response
there is a standoff of silence now,
her, armed to the teeth with self righteousness
and guilt trips
and you with only self preservation and her voice in your head
a moat of passive aggression widening between you that one of you must cross,
that you will cross.
Before you dive in you fill your lungs with the ways this is your fault
Did you not hide your dislike of the ill-fitting Christmas gifts well enough?
Was Christmas the last time you spoke?
Or is this your fault the way everything is/has always been/ will always be
Is your mother more upset that you aren’t talking
or that you aren’t hearing her talk?
Should you call this time
rather than text?
And then, before you can reach for the phone
A sphinx pads gracefully in
and stands guard at your throat
a massive regalfeline with the face of June Cleaver
and a hint of your therapist’s kind eyes
She says you must answer her riddles before you can reach out to the woman who birthed you.
- If a daughter stops looking for her mother’s approval does it matter if it was never there?
- If a mother disowns her own mother and a daughter then disowns her is this a grudge or a genetic trait?
- If a mother hears her daughter being beaten by an angry son in another room of the house, perhaps even the room right next to her own, and pretends she does not-is she still a mother?
3a. If this angry son moves 6 states away and never speaks to the mother again
is that some sick and righteous karma or an inheritance?
3b. If the beaten daughter waits 15 years to ask for an apology
and still does not receive one
and instead receives fault
and only then begins to pull away
is she holding a grudge?
or is the grudge holding her
like her mother should have?
- If a daughter forgives her mother again
will it hurt more or less when the mother is careless with her again?
10 & 2/3rd’
Unknown Driftwood with a Mermaid Hair Core
Driftwood enters the ocean as one thing,
a tree or part of a tree swept into the water during a storm,
part of a beachfront house dismantled by natural disaster,
a slave ship tide-wrecked against the jagged rocks by an angry ocean,
and comes out another,
its sins not washed from it but ground in and belonging wholly to it now.
What could hold my magic better than a thing rough born
and smoothed by the ocean’s salt thick mother tongue
baptized in coarseness
Am I not just an ocean too?
full of heavy magic
ship swallower on my worst days
gentle rocking sun catcher on my best
temper like an undertow
Do you hear the waves in me?
Do you see how I push and pull with the moon?
Aren’t I feared for the size of me? Aren’t my depths unreachable?
Do I not also have some mystical siren song thrumming within?
Pulling you close?
Something like love
Something that might just hold you under
Until you cannot breathe
Safety Spells for Sea Monsters
Steal away to our altar
our clubhouse, the ocean.
Drape the waves above our heads,
a blanket fort against land dwellers who name us monsters
water might be the only thing could ever hold us gentle,
my arms and yours are also water.
Banish the ones who scavenge for blood in this water
who search the sand for our teeth to lay at a hateful altar
who decry the water’s crash and churn but never praises its gentle
the ones who come only to poach treasure despite fearing the ocean
that made it. Who exploit the sea and tell all who will hear that it is full of monsters
and then set a reward for our heads.
Scatter the meddling fish nibbling our weary heads
we are as necessary to life as this water
we have heart caves sized for monsters
slow the riptides running thru them to quiet hymns , heart caves be the most sacred altar
we are not too much but rather so much, like our ocean
here we may float deservedly gentle
The bedside manner of the sea is gentle
we come to heal our busted knuckles and our rattled heads
in this infirmary named ocean
there’s nothing that can’t be fixed in water
in this ward named altar,
Here we can lay down all our power despite being monsters
There is loneliness in being monsters
the assumption that we are not gentle
our bond that we know better be an altar
keep water above our heads
not heads above water
Whisper my name and I will meet you in our ocean
Howl the blood scavenger’s names and I will weaponize our ocean
remind them they created us monsters
take from them any comfort, any prize they found in the water,
scrape from them anything they ever knew to be gentle
a parching curse laid upon their heads
until they build our humanity it’s proper altar
Steal away to our altar
where the light and water dances a crown around our holy heads
here, even the rigid wood of shipwrecks eventually goes gentle.
Rachel Wiley is a queer, biracial poet and performer from Columbus, Ohio where she somehow holds down a rather boring day job. She is a feminist and a fat positive activist. Rachel is a fellow and faculty member of the Pink Door Writing Retreat held each year in Rochester, New York for women and nonbinary writers of color. She has toured nationally performing at slam venues, colleges, and festivals. Her work has appeared on Upworthy, The Huffington Post, The Militant Baker, Everyday Feminism and PBS News Hour. Her first poetry collection, Fat Girl Finishing School, was published in 2014 by Timber Mouse Publishing. Her second collection, Nothing is Okay, was published in March 2018 by Button Poetryand spent some time as Amazon’s #1 Gay & Lesbian Poetry Collection.