Two Poems

Poetry / Lindsay Lusby

:: What’s the story, Mother? ::

Take comfort in this: 
you are not dear to me. 

O Night of Desirable Objects,
you are the honeytrap 
			                 I cast deep 

into this bracken of asters 
and catchflies. 
		          You will watch 

the dark undress, 
peel back its beard of sepals. 

          Do not call out for me:

Let this pale hand cover your mouth.
Let it smother you with my love. 


:: You still don’t understand
what you’re dealing with, do you?::

	Natural selection cannot fashion perfect organisms.
	—“The Evolutions of Populations,” Campbell Biology textbook

Inside its mouth, 
		                 another mouth:

                    a fearful symmetry that rips 
through every soft-bellied thing 

          like worms through wet earth. 

On top of bone, 
                             more moonbright bone. 

                    Holds the nightbloom of your face 
in thrall and you will tremble at the feet 

          of all its terrible glory. 

Behold, child:    
                            this is Leviathan. 


From the writer

:: Account ::

The titles of each of these poems are lines of dialogue borrowed from Ridley Scott’s Alien, which happens to be one of my favorite horror movies. Since zero-gravity and oxygen tanks aren’t really my poetic aesthetic, I wanted to bring Alien back down to earth. I approached the story through the language of fairy tale and Catholicism, the alien-ness through the imagery of plants and wildflowers. I wanted to create an earthly strangeness with them, one that horrifies through its grotesque familiarity. The titles came first, of course, and then I let the poems grow from there.

When I began, I assumed the character of Ripley would be my main focus, other than the xenomorph itself. But strangely, the character of Mother emerged as the voice of these poems. This, I think, was the one thing that truly surprised me in the writing of them. The ship computer, called MU-TH-UR, begins as such a benign and neutral influence in the background of the film; but by the end she becomes a true antagonist, telling the ship’s crew (her children, you could say) that they are expendable in the service of a greater mission: bringing the xenomorph back to earth for proprietary study. She becomes the callous, neglectful, murderous fairy-tale mother we know from Brothers Grimm stories like “Hansel & Gretel” and “The Juniper Tree.” Bits of each of those stories ended up in the poems as well. The places where stories overlap with each other just light up for me and those are the places where I build my poems.


Lindsay Lusby is the author of two chapbooks, Blackbird Whitetail Redhand (Porkbelly Press, forthcoming 2017) and Imago (dancing girl press, 2014), and the winner of the 2015 Fairy Tale Review Award in Poetry, judged by Joyelle McSweeney. Her poems have appeared most recently in Faerie Magazine, North Dakota Quarterly, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Fairy Tale Review.