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Hideous Progeny

June 24, 2010

by Leslie Ann Minot

…I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper. I have an affection for it…
Mary Shelley, “Introduction,” Frankenstein (1831)

 

daughters & monsters—

I often think of Mary, patiently unwinding the skein
of her nightmares, sentence after sentence,
on the carefully blotted page,
through a labyrinth of dead-end relationships,
not least of all with death—

we run off,
bodies of chaos,

with poets, passing heroes
bound for Attic wars,
revolutionaries, boys
with motorcycles, worse still,

other women—

like Mary, I have stopped trying to decide
if it is a hero in the shape of a monster, a monster
in the shape of a hero, a mask with the eyes
of a hero or monster behind—

we enter the world
breathing consequences—
nothing but trouble,

even the most dutiful daughter
will one day make her bed

& roll in it in ecstasy—

fathers & mourners

when you write about Mary’s achievements, I see
we are not reading the same story & I have stopped
trying to tell you that I will never stop
trying to tell you, I will tell story
after misread story—

you stand stiff
in your doorways

faces carved by the traces
of angry tears you cry
& do not cry.
the dream of betrayal

is an old story

but when the last doubtful hero has abandoned the quest
& the ship turns back, where the darkened
water meets the glare of frozen waste, Mary awakens
to who & what remains, staring back the black waves
as they break—

daughters & monsters,

knowing love fails.
wanting to believe

love leaves us

fearless in its wake—


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Leslie Ann Minot received an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2004, and has previously published poetry and translations of poetry in The Chicago Review, The Red Rock Review, New Letters, and neon geyser/porcelain sky. She has published critical articles in The European Romantic Review and Excavatio, as well as in collections on Victorian sensation fiction, Caribbean literature, Georges Sand, and Muriel Rukeyser. Currently, she is watching too much Dark Shadows on video.

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  1. JJS
    June 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I so love both the the language and the perspective of this poem, Leslie – and how it yields new insight upon each re- and re-reading. Gorgeous.

  2. June 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    This is gorgeous, thank you so much. That first line keeps reeling me back in and I, too, find more each re-reading.

  3. June 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    love it.

    “we enter the world
    breathing consequences—”

    took me places.

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