SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Syrinx's Song Silenced by Chloe Hanson

First

there was a woman. There is always a woman,

a sum of parts: hair, hand, breast.

 

Then there was a river,

the water over stones immaculate

despite the mud banks. Shore-reeds whispered

to one another of the woman,

nude, wet, and dark as the earth

the water caressed.

 

If she lived

today, she’d sing “Unchained Melody,”

mouth the perfect o

of a skipping stone. If she lived

today, she’d hide the planes and ridges

of her form in soft green grasses,

because her mother always told her

to be modest.

 

Tonight, my husband forms an o

lips pursed over pan pipes. He plays

earth and wind and water old as creation

in each breath, and I remember

a story old as creation, a story my mother read me:

 

Syrinx’s arms frothed with sweat,

and legs hot as worked horses

pushed her to the water’s edge, where the reeds

kept the memory of her songs. Pan, pursuing

threw back his head and howled.

Her sisters made her delicate limbs hollow and green,

easy for the wind to carry, a grounded bird

and buried her by the river, where she roots

even now.

 

This is how I first heard of a man

taking a woman, cutting her

and fashioning her into an instrument

to be called upon for music, to sing

I’ve hungered for your touch a long lonely time

when touched, whether she means it

or not.

 


Chloe Hanson has recently been featured in Calamus, Stirring, Contemporary Verse 2, and Pretty Owl, among others. She is the Literary Arts Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts and the Assistant Poetry Editor for Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts. She loves beer, dogs, and The Partridge Family almost equally.

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