Daphne's Daughters: Jenna Whittaker

Daphne's Daughters: Jenna Whittaker

Daphne’s Daughters
by Jenna Whittaker

…[Daphne’s] limbs grew numb and heavy, her soft breasts
Were closed with delicate bark, her hair was leaves,
Her arms were branches, and her speedy feet
Rooted and held.
[Apollo] placed his hand
Where he had hoped and felt the heart still beating
Under the bark.

‘Since you can never be my bride,
My tree at least you shall be! Let the laurel
Adorn, henceforth, my hair, my lyre, my quiver’

The laurel,
Stirring, seemed to consent, to be saying
Ovid, “Apollo and Daphne,” Book 1, Metamorphoses**

We are Daphne’s daughters—
her limbs breaking bark.

We are the roots
this tiger from the earth—

the roar
of branches bursting open,
of arms flinging wide, feet bounding free,

of thunder
forgetting to tiptoe,
refusing to whisper.

The earth is our drum
and we are its warrior-song—

the vibrations
of worlds long-denied—the stirring
of constellations awakening
like fireflies in the night
sensations that dance
down to the bone
where the flames
of a thousand stories burn.

We are the braille
that teaches the night sky how to spell
its own light.

We are Daphne’s daughters—
that unuttered howl
trapped between her ribs—

the no
that has never
meant yes.

We are the untamable wild,
the resistant
persistent she
no longer the silence
crowning he.

We are centuries of poems
rippling across
a heart that beat
beneath Apollo’s hand
that never ceased to dream
of something more.

And we are rising.
We. Are. Rising.

*In the classical Ovidian myth of Apollo and Daphne, the Olympian god Apollo aggressively pursues Daphne, a beautiful young nymph. He chases her until she is exhausted and can go no further. She comes to the river of her father and, desperate to evade Apollo’s lust, she cries out for her father to change her form.  Her father grants her request, and, just as Apollo is about to seize her, she turns into a laurel tree.

**Prefatory quote from Ovid: Metamorphoses, translated by Rolfe Humphries, Indiana University Press, 1955: 19-20.

Holy Liberation: Julia Fehrenbacher

Holy Liberation: Julia Fehrenbacher

welcome: we rise

welcome: we rise