Sister, Mother, Cellar Woman | by Jessie Lynn McMains

sister like myself, washing dead hands, werewolf born: I
dislike my deathcup family. everyone is the same. luck would
go to poison: oh boneyard, deep down in the cover
of sleep. no, said me, you’ll tea-cup her
on that liquid soft starlight language, tongue dead with
pretending. moon sang the world down, in the dried leaves
all amber-maroon, forever. our women fruit in the dark cellar like
a poem, like rich jellies preserved by children.
the cat-mother told me stories, my statement was this: in
hemlock and snakeberry, internally, I is not edible. a
poisonous water, taken first, is one importance. the story
was tasteless. I buried it here against the black wet nothing and
remembered: once I stood, near-grown. I either died or had to keep
poor things, the ugliest flowers. bring our mother a moon cup, her
berries have breathed water. someday I would have been safe,
buried in the wild ground. perhaps I asked too heavily to sing, and
the place pressed never-closely. I burned her trees to bright the stories warm.


*this is both a Golden Shovel and a cut-up poem. source text: Jackson, Shirley – “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”



Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, and small press owner. Her words have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Spider MirrorMemoir Mixtapes, Ghost City Review, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others. She collects souvenir pennies and stick & poke tattoos, and is perpetually nostalgic, melancholy, and restless. You can find her website at, or find her on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie

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