Volume 3, Issue v
Myths and Legends
Wild Greens 3, no. 05 (March 2023)
Myths and Legends
Welcome to the March 2023 issue of Wild Greens
Myths and Legends is about transformation: shapes shift, humans become gods or monsters. The heroes of legends don’t always return, and if they do return, they’re changed. Myths connect us to shared human experiences, folklore connects us to our histories and to the earth. Hayley Boyle’s watercolor cover for this issue illustrates Mother Earth. Presence, fertility, growth, interconnectedness, deep roots.
Melissa Lomax’s monsters, in mixed media collage, were originally made as artist trading cards. “Monster Collection” is comprised of small handheld cards that participate in a long tradition of moving art from museums to everyday life.
Kristi Schirtzinger’s “The Final Dirge” tells the story of Queen Boudicca of the Celts’ massive battle against the Roman Empire. She prepares to give her life for the liberation of her daughters and her children.
Angela Patera’s “Nyx (Goddess of the Night)” in watercolor and gel pens depicts a beautiful and terrible personification of night. “La Peña,” a poem by Erika Pettersen, draws upon the writer’s time in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the legends in the land.
“Amatonormativity,” the first of two pieces of Lynne Marie Rosenberg, tackles a modern myth, perpetuated by cultural storytelling, that everyone is better off in long term exclusive coupled relationships. In watercolor and ink, the artist humorously depicts how it feels to be on the outside.
“From where I grew, another followed,” a short story by Carly Lewis, is a spin on a folk tale of nature and survival. “Kali-Jayi,” digital art by Smrutirekha Dalai, takes on survival after death.
Three breathtaking mosaics by Robin Brownfield: “Aphrodite — Athena — Medusa” portray three powerful women in Greek mythology.
In Lauren Kimball’s latest Turtle and Hare, Hare seeks to change the old fable.
To close the issue, four pieces around the myth-making of the everyday. In “The Quantum Lock that Binds Us,” a poem by Sean Lynch, legends walk on earth: a homeless man in Philadelphia is Blackbeard the Pirate.
“Dust Bunnies” by Lynne Marie Rosenberg animates the mundane things around us.
“Pain is unrealized wisdom, revolution is incessant,” a collage by Galen Passen, meditates on grief. “Icarus,” a short story by Megan Jauregui Eccles, takes us back to ancient Greece, where Daedalus the inventor mourns the death of his son.
Table of Contents
collected papers, mixed media collage
The Final Dirge
I need to be alone more than I need shelter or food. The relentless tide of war songs (even my own name had become one: Boudicca! Boudicca!), the feuding clans, and the scorched earth stole the very marrow from my bones more than hunger ever had. I tell only Eilish, my general, that I am taking leave for a short respite and that no one is to follow me or be told where I am. As much as she vexes me with her insolence and single-mindedness, she is the only one who could begin to understand. She asks no probing questions, as I expect, and even kisses my cheek as I leave, though we had argued only hours before. I realized at that moment how much she reminds me of the sister I so miss.
I take no mare, but stroll through the courtyard and well beyond the stables, to a small feral meadow where late summer intybus blooms. The bees are in their harvest frenzy, gathering resources to make it through another winter, and their methodic buzzing as I lay among them lulls me into a daydream. Behind my eyes, I visit myself at an earlier time, a time when I lay in this very meadow beside Prasutagus. Between us lay two-year-old Ceridwen, her bow-shaped mouth going slack against one breast as she falls into a milk stupor, and new-born Rhiannon, feeding greedily at my other nipple—her eyes, even then—searching the horizon.
On the heels of that tranquility comes the memory of a dream from two nights past. I stood in a scruffy, flat moorland, encased in fog so dense it had weight. As I moved through it, I felt bones and the instruments of war at my feet. I tread cautiously, sometimes stepping on bone shards that made me wince, sometimes stumbling on shields and helmets. I could see no horizon, only a blind distance of white.
I stopped when my toes slid beneath a tiny, intact skeleton. I knelt and picked it up, cradling the fragile head and torso in my hands. It was a baby, perhaps four moons old, whose hollow eyes came to life suddenly. The eyes, identical to mine, looked expectantly up to me, then the mouth began to coo or cry; I could not tell which, for it was voiceless. I put the skeleton to my breast and walked farther into the fog. As we trudged on, its brittle baby mouth turned soft and took its fill from my body. The fog began to clear, and the sun illuminated the bones, thick as autumn leaves at my feet. The skeleton at my breast smiled with her green eyes and full, dimpled cheeks. As I walked, her bones took on flesh and strength as my legs weakened and faltered. In the distance stood a cloaked woman, too far away to see her features, but close enough to see her beckoning hand. I felt she would interpret this strangeness if I could make it to her.
Energy seeped from my legs like water from a cracked bowl, and I fell to my knees, coming down hard on bones that splintered under my weight. The baby showed no fear, only smiled into my eyes and grasped at my hair. I wrapped her and her kicking legs up in my cloak and tied it to my chest. Then, on my hands and knees, I crawled inch by slow inch toward the woman as the child watched the sunlight that danced across my gold torc.
At long last, I reached the woman, and though I could not see her face, I knew when she held out her hands that she wanted the baby. I unwrapped her from my cloak. Her chubby arms reached toward the woman, and as she left my hands, I fell among the bones as the last strength in my body ebbed away. When I woke, I knew the meaning of the dream immediately.
I rise reluctantly from the bees’ kingdom. Oh, what I would give to be in that queen’s army, a worker bee with one, sacred mission: food. I thank the bees for the music—it was a dirge, and I could ask for none finer—then walk farther out, to the little woodland we call Coed Bach, where I brought Ceridwen and Rhiannon often when they were too little to ride down the winding ramparts to Coetir Santaidd. In some ways I prefer Coed Bach. It was our private sanctuary, with no pressure to worship at the great oak. I showed them plants used for medicine and food, and a plant never to touch that grew along the tiny brook. These are the memories I want to relive with my grandchildren. Anger rears up in me as I make my way to the soggy ground, where the aconite grows. The hood-shaped flowers—pretty, purple things—that belie their true danger, reach my knees. With the protection of linden leaves between my palms and the plant, I tug one out of the soil. The root is starchy and dense, with many spindly tendrils. It will provide more than enough when the time comes to use it.
As I near the stables, I put on a mask of unwavering certainty. I remind myself that I am the face of this war, and my people need to see it. Our enemies need to see it. Yet I had come to believe, and now know for certain, that my children’s and grandchildren’s freedom will cost me my life. It is not too high of a price to pay.
Nyx (Mistress of the Night)
La PeñaUnder your finger, tiny leaves closetwo by two, collapsing into a skinny stem.“Vergonzosa,” the ranger tells us.A plant ashamed to be touched.
I feel small again, like when we arrived, gazing up at two large sculptures: a man and a woman.“Los gentiles,” the ranger told us.Taller people who once roamed these mountains.
You turn away from me,and I turn toward you,as we peer down and across a valley.“El braso del mar,” the ranger tells us.Where the ocean will swallow the earthand the world will end.
You glance back at me, smirking,and I feel your smallness, too.You’re capable, but empty.I’m vulnerable, but full.
Neither of us can imagine that we were once giants.
From where I grew, another followed
I remember the fires. How they painted the sky like a bloodied sunrise in the east, swallowing the cold blue winter with withering heat.
The acrid smoke drew me out of my home, tunneled deep in the earth through the door of a hollow tree. Had I not been awake, the fires would have trapped me and many. I crawled from the hollow with eyes still sore from weeping—I’d felt the coming of the flames for weeks. And still, no one was wise to believe me. It is easier to smell the coming smoke when my eyes can see so far; moments that haven’t happened yet, but will soon enough. They always do.
My people put faith in the gods of known chance and entrust their souls to the hands of expected circumstance. It is not all bad, to live by the measured sway of the air, the timely turn of the season. But danger is the difference.
The air is changing.
The fire’s riders care not for custom. Hooves tramping verdant ground to ash, consuming, consuming. Not for need, but hunger. A flame’s gluttony is never satisfied and rarely stopped. They know of little else.
Many will die today, I thought, keeping low to the ground so the smoke couldn’t blind me, and their ignorance will follow them. My gut churned at the thought, though I knew it was true. It didn’t make leaving any more bearable.
Like something more beast than human, I crawled from tree to tree, scraping and knocking on the bark doors until those inside heard, pleading for them to come out and flee. Some answered and took their families far before the first wild flames reached their thresholds. Others refused and shoved me from their plots. “What will you have us fear, beguiled one?” they spat. In the back of my mind, I saw their beautiful oak doors turn to darkened soot. I wasted no time waiting for their change of mind. No need to linger for those who were already lost.
I ran with the hoards I managed to save, fast as we could to beat the riders that pursued us. A pang ran through my chest. Though I knew we were right to run, I longed to turn and face the flames. Wild as they were, they hungered for the peace they could never have. I’d watched for months in my mind as the fire’s riders consumed lands beyond this one with hope in their empty eyes. After this one, they thought, we will slow, we will be satisfied. We will be freed. But peace never did come to them. It never would.
We made it to the grasslands when the sun rose, cleaving the sky with unbearable light. The heat of it razed the back of my neck. I hurried the others on—“Keep going further and further now!”—when I heard her.
Beyond the gnashing of flames, the rider’s gorge—the gentle coo of a child just waking up.
I closed my eyes to look ahead and came up coughing. Even my mind grew dark with this smoke.
The child called again.
For a moment, some bitter part of me begrudged the fools I’d left behind. The ones who had taught me duty to the land and the people on it, though they cursed my gift of seeing. It wasn’t a choice to move without thought, and it never had been.
With something like hate in my heart, I turned away from the masses. The blistering air sucked me back into the forest, dragging me with guiding hands to the fallen tree where an infant lay just out of reach of her mother’s arms. The woman lay motionless, crushed by a twisted branch.
I took up the child and turned back in the direction of the grasslands. Just then, a large oak timbered and fell before me, walls of flame spreading and trapping. The roar of hooves was deafening. This I had not seen. I had not wanted to.
Stepping in circles made no difference. Until I saw before me, mere paces from her poor mother, the child’s home rising tall and strong. The branches were just beginning to alight with feasting sparks. Resolve replaced hate and I fell to my knees, clawing at the tree’s bark with my free hand until some crumbled free. I stuffed it into my mouth, swallowed, and began to pray. To the gods of circumstance. To the forest and trees. To the unnamable eye that saw through me. To take myself and the child, to hold us safe. Alive.
From my knees, roots sprung. They dug and gripped into the earth quicker than I could catch my breath. Upwards I unfolded. Along my arms I grew branches that wove taller until I could reach the flames above me. But, trying to grasp my hands and the bark of my face, they hissed away in steam. In the hollow knot where my womb once was, the baby slept, strangely calm amid the fires as if she did not hear their feasting at all.
I remained until the riders moved on and every tree around me burnt away. Until the child I cradled grew big enough to crawl from the hollow and turn over the soot-stained soil with her own hands to plant things new. I remained when she left—to find her own and be her own—and when she returned. I remained until her own children grew and she waned, tired and wise. Until she came to me and took from my bark.
I remained with her by my side, our leaves billowing, growing, dying.
And I will always remain. This I have seen.
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Aphrodite - Athena - Medusa
Changing the Narrative
Read about the language of flowers that inspired this month's logo on Ko-Fi.
The Quantum Lock That Binds UsBlackbeard came right up to me while I was standing in lineoutside a concert on Spring Garden streetand said he walked all the waythere from an imaginary mountainin Voorhees, New Jersey, coincidentally the townwhere I was born and where I know there's only flatness and woods, said he needed money to buy a shovel,wanted to trade a bouquet of dead flowers for a few dollars with me, out of all the people in line to see the band, and, I stared straight ahead like he was a ghost, to be frisked for knives and listen to forget the pirate I abandoned, a man who looked like he fell off the Ben Franklin bridgeinto the dark Delaware water, fell and followedan invisible trail out of the river without any liquidon his skin, and I, a no one he chose for a reason,scoffed at him, had the audible nerve to forsakeadventure, to dismiss a living god standing before meso I could ignore my own search for what I've lost,when Blackbeard's treasure still remains hiddenunder earth along a landlocked state whereno one would think it would be, how cleverof him to bind his gold to a place and timeno one could conceive of, and how ignorantof me to assume that this mythical manwas merely a modern panhandler.
Pain is unrealized wisdom, revolution is incessant
My son is more than wax wings. He is long eyelashes and mischievous smiles and curly, golden hair. He is untied sandals and scraped knees and impetuous eye rolls. He is loud whispers and made-up songs and boisterous laughter. And when he falls like a star from the sky to the sea, he ceases.
But no one remembers him as anything more than a warning. No one knows the boy, just the myth. And here am I, a father, foolish to love such a flawed young man. Because that’s what he’ll always be—young.
He’ll never know the touch of grey in his beard, or the taste of a sweet apple on a crisp, autumn morn, or the tide of love when a father holds his child for the first time.
He is, he was, but he never will be.
Love is a labyrinth meant to trap and trick you. Love is a monster made of flesh and bones and drowned son. Love is a curse for things you can’t hold forever. I see his face in the fractured reflection of the sun on the sea and try to remember him as that bright, endless boy instead of the look of rapturous pain and regret on his face in those final moments.
We are not the sum of our imperfections. We are not one brash moment, a final mistake. We are all suns, bright and burning and falling and dying. We are universal, unicursal. We are everything.
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Artists and Contributors
Melissa Lomax (she/her) is a freelance illustrator, art teacher, and cartoonist with 20 years of experience in the creative industry. Some of her clients include American Greetings, Sellers Publishing, Great Arrow Graphics, and Highlights for Children. Her comic 'Doodle Town' posts on GoComics.com, the largest catalog of syndicated cartoons and comics. When she is not in the art studio, she enjoys spending time in nature, drinking really good coffee, and 'everyday adventures' with her husband. Pop by her Instagram @melissalomaxart for weekly inspiration!
Kristi Schirtzinger is an emerging author with an MFA in Creative Writing from Ashland University. She grew up in rural Ohio, where she and many family members still reside. Her work has been featured in The Black Fork Review, The International Feminism and Rhetoric Conference, and Drunk Monkeys. Her fascination with Celtic history has inspired folktale retellings, short stories, and a novel about the Boudiccan rebellion of 60 AD entitled Three Summer Moons.
Angela Patera is a self-taught artist whose art has appeared in numerous publications, as well as on the cover of Selenite Press and Penumbra Online. Her art usually draws inspiration from the genres of horror and fantasy, but also from folklore and nature.
You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram as @angela_art13
Erika Pettersen (she/her) has pursued multiple paths during her adult life: photography, curatorial work, arts administration, fundraising, and multidisciplinary research. Now, she’s finally reconnecting with her inner child by returning to creative writing, her first calling. Erika currently dabbles in poetry and is working—very slowly—on a novel. Her writing draws from personal experiences as a woman of mixed heritage from Queens, NY and related concepts of identity, belonging, and liminal space explored in the works of Latina feminist thinkers. It also brings her closer to the contours of the ineffable, along with meditating and dream interpretation.
Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Lynne Marie Rosenberg (she/her) is a performer turned advocate turned Emmy-nominated content maker turned visual artist. She is the host and creator of the interview show, "Famous Cast Words" on New York's PBS affiliate station, ALL ARTS, and the one-person-band behind the Etsy store, Hungry Bodhisattva. Lynne works predominantly in graphite and ink with additional forays into charcoal, watercolor, and stop-motion animation.
Carly Lewis (she/her) is a written and visual storyteller residing in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. A graduate of Hollins University's creative writing and film programs, she tries to find a meeting place in the middle of those two subjects, creating a tangible atmosphere that is whimsical or otherworldly in her pieces. She has a taste for artists who break the rules, and has written about them in Spindle Magazine, LARB's Publishing Workshop journal, PubLab, and as a contributor for Write or Die Magazine. Currently she works with Ayin Press as their Publicity and Production Manager. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter at @carlyisclary.
Smruti, the manifestation of memory (as is the meaning of name) is a human diary whose memory fades slower than the rest. She, hence, stays plagued by nostalgia that sometimes pulls her deeper into grief. On happy days however, she greets the sun with greater light.
Robin Brownfield (she/her) is a former sociology professor in Collingswood, New Jersey who turned to mosaic art after becoming disabled. She was featured in a FOX-29 (Philadelphia) News report, because after sharing a series of award-winning “Black Lives Matter” mosaic portraits online, she was commissioned by Tamika Palmer to do a mosaic portrait of her daughter, Breonna Taylor, whose death, in part, launched a rebirth of the Black Lives Matter movement. That portrait can be seen in the documentary “Bree Way: Promise Witness Remembrance.” Her award-winning artwork has been in galleries in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York City, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Virginia, Texas, Illinois, and San Francisco. She recently finished supervising a community mosaic mural project entitled “Childhood Memories,” which she designed at Thomas Sharp Elementary School in Collingswood, NJ. Above the mural honoring her is a plaque making her one of those old dead people (in the future) who nobody ever heard of, but whose name is on a plaque. Visit her website, www.robinbrownfieldmosaics.com, to see more of her work.
Artist and Writer
Lauren Kimball (she/her) lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. In her spare time, she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.
You can find her comics on Instagram @turtle_n_hare_comic.
Sean Lynch is a writer and editor who lives in South Philly. His poems have been published most recently in Hoot Review, Mad Poets Society, and Apiary Magazine. He's been the editor of Whirlwind Magazine, Moonstone Press, Serotonin Poetry Journal, and the Nick Virgilio Writers House.
Galen Passen (he/him) is a Brooklyn-based visual artist, multimedia artist, and professional musician. His work centers around the use of the audio-visual format in order to weave intimate narratives that help reconnect us with our inherent humanity, curiosity, and connection to community. His visual work is regularly commissioned for book covers, album covers, and personal collections. He received his Bachelor's degree from Goddard College, whose emphasis on social ethics and critical thinking helped him to integrate his diverse life experiences and creative outlets into a multidisciplinary, multicultural artistic methodology. He is also a performer within the realms of Hindustani classical music, experimental composition, contemporary dance, and movement theater. He has had the privilege of performing at such prestigious sites as the legendary folk venue Caffe Lena, The Center for Remembering and Sharing (CRS), Chhandayan Center for Indian Music, and Pioneer Works, amongst others. He has worked with author Jayita Sarkar, Brooklyn Raga Massive, The Pittsburgh Opera, The Silk Road Project’s GMW, and Korean Piri master, Gamin Kang.
Megan Jauregui Eccles
Megan Jauregui Eccles writes dark, speculative fiction for young adults, and is represented by Lauren Galit of LKG Agency. Her writing has appeared in Kelp Journal, Coachella Review, Ladies of the Fright, The Lineup, and Dwarf+Giant. She teaches creative writing at John Paul the Great Catholic University and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California Riverside—Palm Desert. Find her on instagram and tiktok.
Jessica Doble (she/her) holds a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She's published two critical works: “Hope in the Apocalypse: Narrative Perspective as Negotiation of Structural Crises in Salvage the Bones” in Xavier Review, and “Two-Sides of the Same Witchy Coin: Re-examining Belief in Witches through Jeannette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate” in All about Monsters. Her poetry has appeared in PubLab and Wild Greens magazine.
Myra Chappius (she/her) is the author of six works of fiction and poetry. While her passion lies with shorter creations, it is her aspiration to complete a full-length novel and screenplay someday. She enjoys reading, music, travel, and learning. When not doing mom things, she is working full-time, seeing the latest movie, or waiting an acceptable length of time before returning to Universal Orlando to satiate her Harry Potter obsession.
Jacqueline (she/her) is a writer, editor, and copyeditor living in California. She earned her BA in English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. She was a 2021 publishing fellow with the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor and co-editor for PubLab and Mosaic Art and Literary Journal. She serves as the fiction editor for Wild Greens magazine and a copyeditor for the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Arrow Journal.
Maggie Topel (she/her) is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.
Hayley (she/her) creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens magazine and serves as the Arts Editor. Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and storyteller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home and wouldn't have it any other way. You can find Hayley on Instagram @hayley3390.
Rebecca Lipperini (she/her) is a writer, teacher, and academic living in Philadelphia, and the founding editor of Wild Greens magazine (hi!). She holds a PhD in English from Rutgers University, where she taught all kinds of classes on literature and poetry and writing, and wrote all kinds of papers on the same. Her essay on the soothing aesthetics of the supermarket was recently published in PubLab. She teaches in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.