cocytus / Rebecca Kokitus


women of the river are
branded with lament—stuttered
syllables, swallowed sobs         

we guard our teeth as soft
handed women guard
their pearls

hard water strips womanhood
threadbare, bones clicking
like the old radiator                  

our skin is cold cast iron, we don’t wear
precious stones, we stash them in the
toes of our stockings like penance        

with a leech around our throats
we pray for our windpipes
to collapse like mine shafts                

because we lived                                  

all rivers lead to Styx, even the cleanest
they say even coal can be corseted
to a diamond            

men of the river drown
and us women hide their gills
beneath matted hair                  

I wonder if my mother’s brand scar
burns as they carve her name
into her future grave                            

I wonder if her caesarian scar
burns each time I bat my eyes at Hades
feeling for landmines with my bare feet


Rebecca Kokitus is a poet residing in the Philadelphia area. She has had poetry and prose published in various journals and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018. Her poetry chapbook, Blue Bucolic is forthcoming from Thirty West Publishing House in 2019. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @rxbxcca_anna.

See more:

Mythology, Original, BOTNKayla Allen