Susan Slaviero


Kathleen Lolley

The Feral Diaries

I.

This is what you might have called Once Upon a Time In a Dark Forest. Or perhaps you will recall The Girl Who Was Raised by Wolves. See me reflected in the fairy tale mirror: the snarls of hair, the graying teeth, the skin smeared with mud and rain. I might have crawled out of the brush to hamstring you with a sharpened rock. This may or may not be your imagination. Still, you don’t wear anything that might attract the attention of predators. Consider the myth of wild children, of those who were lost, then found again albeit in animal form. Hyena. Tigress. Hear that growl forming beneath the root of my tongue? It’s how you know there’s something primal hidden in the story, something that bleeds prettily from its stained mouth.

The Feral Diaries

II.

[An adolescent, rescued from the rain forest]

The village is a place of rumor. There is a girl who steals our goats. There is a monster living in the trees that appears as shadow, as feline, as toothsome maiden whose mouth must remain hidden. The women look for her footprints in turned earth, pretend not to see the protrusions of claw that suggest shapeshifter, witch.

She might be the escapee of a secret military experiment, or an ancient goddess fallen from some forgotten constellation. In lieu of men with guns dressed in camouflage, look for missing stars. There are gaps in the trees that suggest machete, huntress. This is how they know she might be real.

Every spring they hear the sound of cats’ cries, only all the cats have gone missing.

They might catch a wild girl, might braid her hair and give her a clean dress. Her feet are dirty. She feels the red pressure of her bones beneath the skin and knows that it means hungry. They sing to her. They are afraid.

The Feral Diaries

VI.

feral (adj.) 1. It is possible we misunderstand the meaning of the word. Feral as in a murder of girls, cawing in unison. We see them, the dark flutter, traveling in the shape of a V. There are lycanthropes among us. Ravens with the faces of film starlets, red-lipped and beakless, put still capable of liver-pecking, of the ubiquitous eye-pluck. 2.) When we say the word, we mean untamed, wild child (colloquial). 3.) Consider the possibilities: Shapeshifters that live as nurses and schoolteachers until the moon pulls their bones into elongated shapes, curving backs and jutting mandibles, perhaps wings or claws. Maybe they got lost in the woods and breathed in some primitive spores that modified their DNA. The screenwriters tell us this can happen. We believe them.

Characteristics of the Murdered Object

1
the body cut from a lace skirt

2
next door, pistols laboring to fire

3
a muffled hour, a rotted footstool

4
a woman cast into dark mirrors, fretwork & filigree

5
dreaming of nightgowns, of calving moons

6
what of me? a smear in the undergrowth, a gossamer mouth, the snow that falls into the dead koi pond

7
green shoots sprouting in the lung’s interior

8
when one coils into a raw fist, another fills the room with breathing

9
the bread won’t rise; the rain is crimson.

10
pills roll under the cupboards and we call it an omen.

11
we see a leaf in the shape of a severed hand

12
something is killing the sparrows

 

Susan Slaviero’s full-length collection of poems, CYBORGIA, is available from Mayapple Press.  Recent and forthcoming chapbooks include An Introduction to the Archetypes (Shadowbox Press 2008), Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press 2009), A Wicked Apple (Hyacinth Girl Press, forthcoming 2011) and Selections From The Murder Book (Ghost Ocean, forthcoming 2011-12).  She designs and edits the online literary journal blossombones and performs as her alter ego, August Rose, with The Chicago Poetry Brothel.

Susan Slaviero’s Blog

Susan Slaviero’s Journal

Susan Slaviero at The Chicago Poetry Brothel

Susan Slaviero at Mayapple Press