The Fifty Daughters of Danaus


His throat heart chest eyes the knife I hold and sing.


Myths of Egypt are over there, far off, whilst I sit amongst
the Myths of Greece, and we can never love so
swords to all, I suppose, swords, blood
forever then over.


I’m parched — it burns down below.


Arrange me at your peril, romance, in the form of
ceremonial incestuous lovedust.


Condemn us you will but eternity here for me number 5
is better than five minutes under your gaze,


After forever comes the trial then, the torment.
The paradox of this girl is that
she is condemned for the simple complexity
of her choice.


Or not — not our choice never our choice we only
did as was asked of us by him see…


Deny thy father deny thy Gods deny thy husband
which is it to be?
Make your choice sisters,
this is where we live or
where we exist.


My arms are … infinite pinpricks.


And her head is all filled with
dull daydreams of a better world.


Our voices all mingle amongst the haze of nothing
into one great voice,


Our bodies all mingle amongst the great mist
into one giant woman,
sisters but each unalike some
muscled some slim some
breasted some not some
have cunts some have dicks we all
suffer amidst


The pointless bath-routine.
The different ways of saying ‘eternity’.
The sweat.
The dry parched rock of the mouth.


You are not sleeping tonight are you no you’re
going to sit here watching us work as you work now
work away work. Your own kind of voyeurism.
Watching forty-nine girls
lug themselves back and forth like some kind of
perpetual motion machine
like some kind of perpetual motion machine like
some kind of perpetual motion machine like some kind of perpetual
clock inside of a clockwork Tartarus.


Sometimes you’ll never finish washing it feels like
you will be forever in process without
progress do what we did see kill him, kill them, kill them all
but one.




The loss of the virgin pure.


Nothing quite so complete.


See some of us wanted to
some of us licked the blade some of us
cried on our way through the cracks
as Hades took us by the ankles
pulling us down into his little smile.


Why invent a King of Egypt, why
did he become such a thing, twin of our islands,
how did he get so lost over there in the sands amongst
huge faces and orange stone?


His name was Aegyptus King of somethings he had
fifty sons all by fifty women I think he was
cruel to his lovers he beat them.


His name was Danaus, not king, noble, fifty
daughters by the same woman,
you should take a look at her ,she’d
lost her thighs by number ten
her hole’s so split it goes up to her chest
she’s practically a hollow tree that woman our mother see.


We are not given names here only numbers,
but we had them somewhere
they just got lost down beneath the carpet sides.
I am 24. I am brunette. I have a darker tan.
I am blind. My sisters help me at our task
they guide me with one hand carefully
it’s not much but it’s something it’s lovely it’s sweet.


The sons had names but now they are all
bones and mealworm, laugh at that there.


You’re still listening, correct am I?


“The performance of the function of a woman was impossible for us for me see, existing within that zone, the good wife, the good daughter, the devoted prayer of prayers, the pretty one, the not too pretty one, the one with the right body, the one who does not have to hide her penis, the one who does not want to bind his breasts, all along then we stabbed our men with sharpness.”


Are you not worried you do not have enough words
to speak to/for all of us?


(Yes. Terribly.)


Do you miss us when you don’t think about us?


(I miss you like you climbed out of me yourselves)


Now, now, bathtime,
when was the last time you showered then?


Come sit in our bath but careful not to fall,
hold onto the sides now,
there is no bottom, there is just
Nothing down there forever


Like Sisyphus with his rock we have
our bath which we must
forever try to fill.


But never wash.


Take a look at our dirt, our flea-housing hair,
our scabbed cheeks,
take a drink.


My nails have grown the length of the moon.


My beard the size of my body.


Watch us fill up the jugs of water carry them
across the scorched ground on our
shoulders then pour it into there
over and over and over and


over and over and over and over and
over and over


and over and over and over without falling without
dropping without waiting
it’s a hard task but it’s work you know
work better than nothing even without
meaning without pay it is still fulfilling…


In it’s lack of fulfillment, she means,
there’s no filling,
there’s nothing but the pointless water
which no one will ever use,
unless you do.


Use it please you may as well.


What do you have to lose?


You could fall yes into oblivion forever drowning with us
always pouring more and more onto you
always you with just bubbles for a voice
us with this mindless machine task
without even the ability to express
expression beyond the Task
of carry pur carry pour over and over–


Don’t start that again!


Defy your husband, you die,
defy your father, you are disowned,


Defy your Gods you are sentenced
to drone on down below,
which would you choose?


We chose our father. He asked us,
kill those men who married you.
The Gods said No.
But they punished us,
after we took our swords,
after we sung in the white clean bedsheets gave them
their first and last taste of blood


All but me. I stayed my hand
Don’t know why.
Now I watch from above
the only sister of fifty left on land now
with a husband who hates me but
knowing my fate I’d rather
be disowned by my father
hated by my husband
free, though, of the endless bath of art
life, down there, which begins to mirror art
finding significance in the pour, carry, pour
poor sisters, poor me,
thank you Gods for your
loving mercy. I get to give birth to fifty daughters
just like Mum always said I would.
Here comes the first one now
like a ripe little bud
my waters broke
they keep breaking
forever falling
to splash against the sides of the ground.
It’s not much
but it’s a life at least surely definitely
better than it could have been. At least my back is unburdened.
Least I can do is bathe.

[Alison Rumfitt is a twenty year-old poet, writer and student studying English Literature in Brighton, UK. She describes her work as “confessional poetry for things that eat people”. She would like to assure you that she does not partake in eating people, as she is a staunch vegetarian. Her work has been published in Star*line, Liminality, Strange Horizons, and more. Find her on Twitter @gothicgarfield.]