What We Sīen
This sīe1 a ruin, fatefuture reliquary of summers secrets souls a giant on my horizon it stands still. I remember it well. The warm light of a bedroom window the gutters always storm-jammed, in need of such continuous careful cleaning. The cold would get in and cause doors to swell in their frames, stuck in their forms from frost’s forthcoming. How many times did I bury my body in the yard? Will its soil welcome my steps? This homestead has no history before us. No generation giving way to our clan the only curses here sīe our creation. It stands still in stormspite beholding battles bursting from fear-tight lips, witnessing the silent war of mothers, fathers, daughters. Will I trans. Be the tornado that tears it down to ruin? What will remain for future folk to decipher? I want… you don’t….. …we feel sīen… …i feel am— [can i sleep in your house tonight?] …please….. …….[how to pay for my own life too]2 ……..spirit retreats… Now that the truthwind of my transwords has shaken our stability we make do by bracing wreckwalls with wire, resolutely binding me to you in ringdebt, peacekeeping with the half-revolving door of my name. But how bright sīe your latenight welcome lights how homely the hot water of a homeshower what mirth sīe taletelling the truth of my days ….what fate awaits us? A ruin that remains in full, residents unfallen, no sword nor stone brought against this keep, …yet am I to be… …a pestilence prods seams til they rip… i don’t want this to be yet i wonder if it is i wonder what sīe yet my past is put upon my present. Punished like [or, the Modern Prometheus] for the promise of progeny never promised to be. i don’t want to cleave my past from my present, to force myself into a future of foundlingness. for i bēowæs hēo3 ic æfre wære i want a līf joygilded i want to drink in delights to revel in reunion revering riches, not regret. Yet is this ruinwork a salve for the unsalvageable? is the damage to the manuscript too much? i want to embrace the work in all its language-loving, but the missing pieces make me mourn. Shall I allow myself… …trying over and over and over… …..coal over fire… …hot-hearted hoarse-throated crying…. ….disnoble desperate dūstscēawung4 daughter… …hoping how… …come home 1 The subjunctive singular form of bēon, OE “to be.” It can variably be translated as would be, could be, or should be, and each of its appearances in this poem are open to interpretation as to what variation they would/could/should be. 2 The Ruin manuscript is heavily damaged, leaving some parts of the poem completely lost. Though the fragments we are able to interpret are clearly thematically in tune with the rest of the poem, the actual words are anyone’s guess. 3 Amended from OE “hē,” a previous mistranslation as MnE masculine pronoun “he” but now best understood as an incomplete fragment of feminine “hēo.” 4 An Old English word for reflecting on civilizations and people that came before us/them, literally contemplation of the dust.
Meabh Cadigan is a senior at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, finishing a degree in English with a minor in Writing for Film, TV, and Emerging Media. Her writing focuses on bridging the medieval and the modern in unique and distinctly queer ways.