FROM THE LETTERS OF MARY SHELLEY

by jessica cuello

 

Dear Mother,

 

I wanted to crawl back into the black interior

 

of you, womb scratched by an animal--

 

but they wouldn’t let me. I hung apart

 

like gallows men, dangling for sweet touch.

 

A line from the red radius of your womb

 

went dark. That night the whole of London

 

raised its eyes to watch the comet pass—

 

except for us. Instead, my currish cry & snarl,

 

my cuss, my cut-and-run, my cutting tooth,

 

made death a custom-house.

 

Your daughter,

Mary Shelley

 

 

 

 

*Mary Godwin Shelley was born to writers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. The night she was born one of Caroline Herschel’s comets went through the sky. The placenta would not come out and a doctor was sent for. The doctor pulled it out, but he infected Wollstonecraft who died 10 days later.

Jessica Cuello is the author of Hunt (The Word Works, 2017) and Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016). She has been awarded The 2017 CNY Book Award, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. Poems in this series can be found or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Plume, Jet Fuel Review, Tinderbox, and Los Angeles Review. Cuello is a poetry editor at Tahoma Literary Review.

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