Laura Madeline Wiseman

Signing Away the Soul
by Laura Madeline Wiseman

Of course the Disney version was problematic,
that a girl gives up her voice to get a man

to love her, that speech could be caught
in a shell glowing in the throat’s hollow,

or that in the original her sisters shorn their hair—
why would any set of sisters be so generous—

to free her and she returns to them as sea foam,
but not that I could recall the sea witch’s lines

into adult life, I’m not asking much, just a token,
and, Life’s full of touch choices, isn’t it?

Inside that jagged mouth cave that sister sea creature
worked—wide dark hips, roused lips—trading souls

for a new life by charm. Who wouldn’t want to
sign their name on her scroll and give her

whatever it was she wanted that day—
and you with no one else to turn to—

because for a moment she would hold you
in her pale, fiery gaze, promising another chance.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Laura Madeline WisemanLaura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her recent books are American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), and the collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins.

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