Shannon Bell


The Mothers are as brutal
as my paintings, full of blood and unspeakable
fluids that seep through the canvas into
my tangled hair.
Their words eat at me in dreams,
come to me as symbols, as unfinished
icons and faceless totems: fox-tail,
cat-claw, hawk-talon.

One who had the head of coyote and the wings
of a maimed raven, one who spoke no words
but scarred my flesh with stones
left me half-dead with the mad light
of involuntary flight in my eyes.
I do not know her name, I did not ask
I only bled as instructed by wing beat,
by curling lip.

My kin, my ancestral dead, they have
the voice of a northern wind, breathing
my name in a wailing cadence,
in a desolate desperation.

My sleeping body is afraid
and shudders beneath countless quilts.
When I awake, when I open my eyes
to the coming dawn I rise and go quickly
to the forests and in the old tongue
in the old way I pray with my face
pressed to mist dampened stone,
I leave offerings of milk and bread,
of mead and tobacco.

My voice catches strangely in my throat
the feral light has not yet left my eyes.

Date of Birth: July 11, 1980
Location: Naples, Maine

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