‘In this one:’
— Hannah Cohen
how to turn one fish into many
I think it’s human nature to imagine other realities and possibilities instead of the actual outcome, especially when it comes to stories. In Dessa Bayrock’s new poem, we see different realities for three female figures—Medusa, Leda, and Mary Magdalene. The common thread between these women is how they’ve long been described and pictured in media: evil, naïve, a whore. Here, Bayrock breathes agency into these mythological characters, gives Mary Magdalene the ability to “[repopulate] the sea” with teachings, like Jesus. Personally, I enjoy the poem’s opening of “Medusa falls in love with a blind man”—saving her own life and preventing the death of others.
Juxtaposed with Leda’s act of self-defense against her sexual predator (“[She] stabs the swan… / with a pair of scissors”), these women’s stories that revolve around being hated, killed, or abused by men is revised into stories of accountability, of power and change. In three short stanzas, Bayrock gives us the myths and histories we really deserve.