Daughter Mined With Mercury

You painted me in shadowy 
stripes of your choosing, iron bars


that stung my fingers and tongue 


to break 
up my beams of gold.


I remember playing 


with loose beads of mercury. 
sleepwalking.  falling out of bed.  


talking in my sleep.  


I got up in the dark 
and couldn’t find 


the door.  I traced back to my bed 


and hid under the sheets.  Did I break 
the thermometer?  I don’t remember,  


but I kind of hope I did.


Cover art: “Hydroplaning 2” by Siri Stensberg



Daughter Mined With Mercury was selected as the 2021 Blood Orange Review Poetry Contest Winner by Luther Hughes. Luther wrote the following about the poem:


This poem draws me in to say the least. As I begin, I start wonder what’s happening and am curious where the poem wants to take me. There are “shadowy bars,” and the speaker is/has “beams of gold.” Questions begin, but because the poem is directed at someone, the speaker proves, somewhat, trustworthy. As the poem continues with memory, I find myself a little more curious, yes, but now I’m wondering where the poem’s end is or what the poem is “about.” At this point, the poem mimics me—“ I got up in the dark / and couldn’t find / the door.” It’s as if, I, too, was rummaging in the darks of this poem. The ending, though, is what perfects the magic of the poem. The speaker’s wandering and uneasiness of the poem ultimately ends with a sort of quiet desire for violence or chaos that is untraced or understood. How often are we sleepwalking or lost in memory or hiding under the sheets? I think this desire for break highlights how each of us need something to shake us a bit—we need something to wake us up.

Shagufta Mulla

Shagufta Mulla, DVM is a poet, artist, and an Amherst Writers & Artists workshop facilitator. Her poetry has appeared in ARC Journal, orangepeel, Blood Moon Journal, and the anthology Nombono by Sundress Publications. She often writes about childhood emotional trauma, her path of healing, and animals as healers. She holds a DVM from Colorado State University and a BS from the University of Arizona. Shagufta lives in Oregon and she can be found on Instagram @s.mulla.dvm.

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