Staff Picks

Rebellious Women in Poetry: Danielle Pafunda


The Dead Girls Speak in Unison

We all understand the way some people will bend over backwards to make others happy. Rebellious women do that a little differently. The girls in this poem by Danielle Pafunda are not exactly bending over backwards but one might heed their warnings to “hush” and “keep quiet” lest ye “split” and “spill.” Are these daughters merely mirroring their short existence by repeating words they heard their mother say? Perhaps they are still alive within each of us, searching our skins for splits and just now spilling out, empowered by poetry—unafraid and then stitching us back together again.   


The Dead Girls Speak in Unison

Hush, now. 

In a house like ours, 
stay quiet. 
Keep moist

or your skin will split 
and spill your secrets 
across the carpet,

one stupid bagworm 
after another.

Hush.  Do not disturb 
our needles, 
squalling thread. 

We’re stitching up 
all your fancy mistakes.

We’re stitching up 
your mother’s face.

We’re going to stitch you a new one.

We’re going to take our time.



Rebellious Women in Poetry (brought to you by rebellious women) is made possible by rebellious women. Reprinted from Delirious Hem by permission of the author whose newest collection, Manhater, is out with Dusie Press Books. Danielle Pafunda is an assistant professor of gender & women’s studies and English at the University of Wyoming. Introduction is by Susan Yount, publisher of Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal and madam of the Chicago Poetry Bordello.


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