The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: How Bright the Wings Drive Us

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Stephanie Erdman, is from How Bright the Wings Drive Us, a collaborative work by Morag Anderson, Barbara DeCoursey Roy, Maeve McKenna, and Audrey Molloy, released by Dreich in 2021. 

String Theory

               By Audrey Molloy

The man with beautiful hands doesn’t know he’s a musician.
He plays the theremin as he talks, oblivious to the sound
of a ghostly aria, one hand an arched arachnid, the other
in delicate vibrato resonating with the strings
of some nearby, idling heart. He pushes back his hair—
he could be Johannes Brahms at thirty—then strokes
the air once more and tells her, through the pixilated screen,
what it is he thinks of Hegel or Henri Lefebvre.


Long ago, in Honshu and Okinawa, the octopus were trapped
in earthen jars called takotsubo. Were she an octopus,
she would enter such a jar just to say its name. The chamber
of the broken human heart assumes the takotsubo shape:
a heart within a heart, the muscle stunned by shock,
blood spooling like the ink released in terracotta pots
when a creature knows its time is up—that pizzicato
on the inner strings that could recall
the wingbeat of an ortolan above a vat of brandy,
or a woman dusting places no one ever sees.


If she were to walk into the bay, just walk in, clothes and all,
past the dotted line of wrack, silt in her shoes, fabric sucking
at her legs, wading out, arms suspended by the elbows
on strings no one can see, what would the ocean have to say?
Ah, my love, my love, how I have missed you, how I have grieved.
And she would come again to amnion, lit with dull green light,
a little bravery required on her part to flood the forests of her lungs,
and on the part of the sea, to swallow hard and take her back.

Audrey Molloy is an Irish-Australian poet. Her debut collection, The Important Things (The Gallery Press, 2021), received the 2021 Anne Elder Award. She is currently undertaking a master’s degree in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, Magma, The North and Stand. She is the grateful recipient of a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Morag Anderson is a Scottish poet. Her chapbook, Sin Is Due to Open in a Room Above Kitty’s (Fly on the Wall Press, 2021) is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. She was placed in the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021, the Edwin Morgan Trust Competition 2021, and selected for Best Scottish Poem 2021. Her work has been widely anthologised and appears in journals such as Finished Creatures, Gutter, Popshot Quarterly. She is currently working on commissions by the Scottish Poetry Library.

Maeve McKenna lives in rural Sligo, Ireland. Her work has been placed in several international poetry competitions and published widely in print and online. Maeve was a finalist in the Eavan Boland Mentorship Award 2020, third in Canterbury Poet of The Year 2021 and a Pushcart nominee 2022. Her debut pamphlet, A Dedication to Drowning, was published in February 2022 by Fly on The Wall Press. She is currently working on a second pamphlet due for publication in September 2022 with Rare Swan Press.

Barbara DeCoursey Roy is an American poet living in the woods outside St Louis, Missouri. Her poetry has been published in The Galway Review, Headstuff, Skylight 47, Pendemic, Open Rivers (an online journal of the University of Minnesota), Popshot Quarterly, and The Galway Advertiser. Along with three other poets, Barbara won first place in the 2021 Dreich Alliance. She is a founding member of Poets Abroad, an international poetry workshop.

Stephanie L. Erdman graduated Purdue University and received her master’s degree through Indiana University. Her first poetry collection, Pyrrhonic, is available through Dos Madres Press and her second collection, Sankhara, is upcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Stephanie describes her style as anything with music and novelty. Stephanie lives in Northwest Indiana and works as a professor of English, editor, and professional tutor. She lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan with her dog, cat, 18 chickens, a transient partner, and persistent impostor syndrome.


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