‘Medusa’ by Wren Hanks​

— Nix Thérèse

Comparing pregnancy to possession takes a gentle touch: it implies that the symbiotic relationship is sometimes more harmful than wanted. Yet ‘Medusa’ adds a fresh perspective as it consistently toes this line with precision. The title already feels charged in its capacity for violence, and the repeated term “blood ghost” with its quiet, haunting pulse that assumably only you’d hear adds a sense of dread. Yet lines like “she’s champagne dissolving my sugar cube” complicate this notion. Imagine your grit washed away until all that’s left is sweetness, your hard edges softened ‘til you’re a flowing stream. Transformation can’t happen without some breaking. The mother finds herself “calmed by [the baby’s] sea grass waving in [her] limbic system, [her] sex drive settled like a tea cup in the sink.” Even as her body is overtaken by the baby’s presence, she still reaps the benefits of her hormones & emotions deciding not to run amok. Sulfur itself is tasteless / odorless / non-toxic, yet combining with other elements quickly makes it harmful. When the mother says her baby’s “a Medusa that smells like sulfur,” it seems that the baby isn’t an inactive crystal structure plopped in the belly, but the rotten aroma shifting and emitting from the core. Yet when the baby hisses, the mother appears unfazed: “it’s almost like flirting.” While the mother recognizes the baby’s impact, the symbiotic relationship keeps her mostly in power. The baby “holding court in [her] veins” wouldn’t thrive if that space wasn’t already made. The mother’s universe will likely exist beyond this baby being the temporary sun. I imagine her turning hands towards the warmth.

Houseguest Magazine