Sheila McMullin


.you dear child.

What will hurt will hurt badly.
I have written your name
on flax and papyrus.
Will never whisper
this name into your ear—will never
call it up the stairs
to come down to play
with your friends
to wash your hands to
get ready for dinner, you are
saying grace tonight.
In the dehydrated city
violets were planted against violets.
Our 500 families grew faces and charged
against violets and shriveled.
The battle lasted your entire life.
Our 500 families died and returned to soil.
The sky was green with scintillate friction
and the sea became just as much twilight
as molecular rings in jellyfish spines.
Do not interpret the story to ask questions.
All property belongs to violets—this
is when blood filled our ovaries,
you began to move your toes,
and the purple-green tint of your nails began
to look more flesh-colored,
and you felt the jabbing pain of life in your side.
Listen, I could have married a king’s daughter
with gold on my breast,
silver in my ovaries.
I could have been a daughter.
I feed you plum after plum,
sew you
together with a promise
a soul will be put through
your mouth.
Wipe the blue juice from your chin.
Didn’t you know we met once before?
In the dehydrated city—Didn’t you know?
I plant you head first in soil
against violets. There is still dirt beneath
your fingernails, and you have yet to brush your teeth
to kiss me. Keep your papa company, dear child,
sit on my lap.
Tell me why you weep.

Sheila McMullin curates the feminist and artist resource website, MoonSpit Poetry where a list of her publications can also be found. She is the Assistant Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts where she writes the column “Spotlight On!”celebrating literary magazines that publish a diverse representation of writers. She is a Contributing Editor for ROAR Magazine: A Journal of the Literary Arts by Women and Outreach Coordinator for District Lit. Her poetry collection, Like Water, has received notable attention from Ahsahta Press, New Delta Review, and Black Lawrence Press chapbook competitions. She works as an after-school creative writing and college prep instructor, and volunteers at her local animal rescue.