The Women of “Fragments”
From The Eagle that Drags the Sun
Pieces of the whole.
A way to relieve your guilt about things
And then go back to doing them,
Because you always drain a boil
But unless you remove it –
The pus replenishes itself,
Filth will always slither out
To fill its nest.
Moments that weren’t,
Places that cannot be:
I will make you remember.
For our better instruction.
The wind passed over the reeds
In a whispered lament,
Recounting their failure
In a susurrus chorus
He would not leave her to herself,
He pursued her and she despised him,
His lusty priapism a fleshy compass
Ever pointing him to her unbeckoned.
She was a totem of chastity made manifest,
Her desire tuned to song and dance and
What sexless activity tradition demanded,
Unspoiled, forest birthed, succulent.
She was ugly man’s wretched idea
Of the virginal. She could not bleed,
She had borne no children,
She had never given succour.
The cloven man sprang one day
To the grove she kept her peace,
He was right away enraptured,
He right away pursued.
She was not like unwitting prey,
That had never sighted the lion;
She fled from him, knowing
As she did what it meant…
When a man looked so –
She came to us, begged aid,
We smelled the shaggy man
Galloping horned on the wind,
So aid we gave, hid her here,
We gave her our shape.
He stooped at the river bank.
His breath forced its way
Across and between and behind
And we swayed.
She in her terror did not.
He seized her stalks and severed,
His breath passed into her
So she cried out but it was song,
High and panicked.
Syrinx, his forever.
O maidens, see the washing water
Mother, widow, down to daughter
All shall bathe the goddess there
All shall stoop and dry her bare,
She is three, yes all our aspect,
She goes hence to fix a defect,
Of the stain of husbandry,
Of the lusty carnality!
Hera, Hera, goddess fair,
Running water through her hair,
Letting spring drop round her loins,
Twixt her thighs such power joins
To undo Zeus’ ministration
Make her fresh for visitation
This lesson learn you well, dear maiden,
Virginity makes men turn craven,
No matter what a wife may do,
The bastard always strays from you.
It is said:
“The gods are jealous.”
It is said:
“Man is stubborn.”
Arachne pulled beauty out of thread,
She made man her subject though;
Their charm, their grace,
Their failure, their rotten needs,
But they were enthralled.
Where is the tale knit up?
Who mounts the spindle?
In cloth she wrought mirrors;
On the looking glass were tears,
Multitude, elicited for mortal feeling –
Pain, ecstasy, dread, prickled from
Next one weaving, next one weaving,
Attend me here at the liar’s loom.
Athena could not abide this,
The girl had no right to weave
Such scenes that skirted souls
And made men’s guts howl out:
That was her preserve.
We will say the girl was a woman,
We will say the girl was proud.
They had their contest,
The goddess offered majesty,
The woman presented truth –
Deities as useless, foolish,
It is said:
“Arachne was made a spider.”
It was seen:
A weaver contort,
Scream fit to bleed your lungs,
You have had your sacrifice;
Are you gorged yet?
People of Athens,
Have you learned yet?
There is an urge in you all:
It lets us watch the hangings,
The beheading, the crushing,
The burnings, the poison,
The blood, the blood, this blood,
And then you
What are you?
Chavonne Brown is a playwright and poet based in Birmingham. He is an MA Creative Writing graduate from the University of Birmingham. He currently works in welfare at a secondary school in Moseley and begins his PhD in Creative Writing in the near future at Lancaster. His areas of interest are speculative fiction and the representation of minority history within it. Find him on Twitter (@theliberalcynic) and on his blog chavbrown.wordpress.com.