Daughterrariums Acts I-V

Sheila McMullin




Knowing what will happen at the end. At the end of night, at the end of the  party, in disguise, in disgust, in a gust of wind— repulse her, owner, own her, stealing her heat, keep her tight ’til morning; let the sun rise over you, let the candle drip onto you, let you go; kick her out of the car, give you up to trash on the roadside, make her knees bleed, let rocks become a part of your skin, let rocks fill in like cancer, call the rocks cancer, cut them out and keep in a jar, make cancer bounce like crickets, make them glow in the dark, let them break the glass, make them fall to the ground, let ground swallow the cancer, make cancer swallow air.



Lying side by side a lowered forearm rests between his breasts—or more precisely—more masculine—on his breast bone; I feel his heartbeats then remember my own—I am warm and getting warmer and seasick. My thumb on his veiny wrist responds with my own sonar pulsing. Our heartbeats happen simultaneously: sound, then off, the same, then off, same, off, same, off. Creating a fever, my skin revolves, spiraling systems in pores. I listen to crickets outside and hear hundreds of them, maybe a few, and trying to pick out one I can’t hear it individually. I can’t sound the alarms for the lions to bulldoze the scenery. Please, dear reader, take me out of bed and put me back into the grass.



Replace pick with moss. Exchange singular with lioness and redact lioness; insert crickets. Extinguish if with then, and here with something that is equal to. Let the quiet be in the backyard between window and fence. Then let crickets know of the daughter to end this story. Therefore, remove start. Make it ends. Leave the smallness. Leave the statement a question. Replace moss with glass. Untangle all necklace chain knots to become an inside. Repeat toward each cardinal point.
But I couldn’t pick out one that sounded singular, and if here is where we start—above smallness—over the earth—is the quiet to join in cacophony?



With blood and black stripes all over. She began her first cycle. Felt like wet sand caught in the crotch of her bathing suit when she was younger and at the beach. Chunky and gooey, and rose is a rose is a rose-colored. The daughter showed her mother. For a moment no one knew what it was. Then the mother smelt it. Yes, you could have babies now. But don’t until you have a good job. You’re doing a good job now. You did the right thing telling me. Mark the phase of the moon on your calendar. It will be good to remember that.



Knowing how this would begin—the lion would end up as the human child I saw in my dream as I was making up the dream when I was asleep, lying with my arm on his chest. My dream mind telling stories, as if I were a fiction writer, a cinema director, and would remember the pen and paper next to the bed. Perhaps pick up the sheet and dip ink while convulsing between heartbeats with sets of eyes still closed. Move my tongue off the top of this roof. If only this entire house were a mouth, I could finally be Jonah. Dear body. Saliva slowly degrading me, drilling my nutrients out of me. Finally write that down.

About the Work

Sheila McMullin

Sheila McMullin runs the feminist and artist resource website, MoonSpit Poetry, where a full list of her publications can also be found. She is the Website Assistant for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and a Contributing Editor for ROAR Magazine. Her chapbook, Like Water, was a finalist for the Ahsahta Press and New Delta Review chapbook competitions, as well as a semifinalist in the Black Lawrence Press chapbook competition. She works as an after-school creative writing and college prep instructor and volunteers at her local animal rescue. She holds her M.F.A. in poetry from George Mason University.

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