Mary: A Fiction

[E]ither destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born
                                                                 Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792

No light streamed through the shutters
when I woke this morning. I knew you
had taken root this past night. I felt
a curious quickening of my womb –

with Fanny, I’d thought it the low
anger of the crowds roiling in the streets,
or the dull pull of hunger in the orange days
of summer. I left the warm bed and your father,

crossing the room in bare feet. My pamphlet
read: Men ought to maintain the women
whom they have seduced. At my desk
in my nightclothes I wondered: What manner

of child might you become, born of the coupling
of minds as much as bodily passions between
man and woman not bound by church
or ritual but by poetry, argument and love?

I imagine your violent entry, your searing cry,
your relentless suckle at my breast. If you be
female, I shall name you Mary. Perhaps when
there are enough of us, Mary, we shall call

the sky, the seas, the stars, the moon into being:
we shall write of something that is wholly woman.
We shall create without man. In my mind’s eye
I see your perfect, infant fingers curl around a pen.

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is an Australian poet. She is the author of eight books. Her next collection of poetry, A Thousand Crimson Blooms is forthcoming from UQP in April 2021. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation.

More by Eileen Chong ›

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