Throughout millennia there is a void. It is a woman’s place. Her actions are critical yet when her function is served - she disappears while the story celebrates the male hero. Her voice is discouraged, intimidated, silenced. Unheard.


Apollo & Daphne is a story from Greek mythology. Apollo is passionately in love with Daphne however his love is unrequited.

As Apollo attempts to rape her, she calls to her father, the River God, Peneus for rescue.

Her father's response is to turn her into a laurel tree.

The myth ends with a description of the devoted Apollo tending the tree forever, a wreath of her leaves worn as a victor's crown.

But how must Daphne have felt, victim to Apollo and then to her father, who "saved" her by taking away her freedom?

In Daphne to Peneus, set years after her transformation, we hear the story from Daphne's perspective, her voice emerging from within the eternal prison of her wooden body.


by Rachel Rose

When Apollo taunted Eros, I was handy

for revenge. I was lovely then—

reason enough to draw wrath. Apollo stalked me

in the market, his fantasy

blinding the indifferent crowd. They thought

he was my boyfriend. Or a god. I believed

you'd save me, Father, but not like that.

I called for you as he caught me and cleaved

his way in. Under him I turned to wood.

He peeled back my indifferent bark,

buried himself in dry mosses. Could

you hear my bones snap, feel my bloodsap

in your river? I grew where you said I should.

Years drift, friends become legends, I'm still wood.


Yasodhara, the wife of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was abandoned by her husband on the night of their son's birth.

In Aubade: Buddha's Wife we hear from Yasodhara some weeks after she awoke to find herself a single parent, her anger and pain still fresh, her devotion to her son intensified.


by Rachel Rose

Others worship you, but I loved you, husband.

I still think we could have worked it out.

You named our newborn son Rahula, Fetter,

and fell in post-partum despair at his birth. Did your father

bind you to such grief when he kept old people a secret

all your boyhood, forced the broken-bodied outside city walls,

grandparents banished? Or was it your queen mother, who died

and left you? Life is a nut-meat in our mouths, and life

is a bowl of cobwebs too. Once

Queen Maya sat under the ashoka trees

and held their red flowers to her face, heavy with joy,

tracing the linea nigra, as inside her you dreamed

of great loneliness, and beat your heels against it. Seven days

after your birth she died, her right side still clotted with blood.

You drank the milk of a woman your father paid,

who felt the death of her own child in every pull.

You grew fat from her sorrow; it formed your dimples.

I can't forgive you. For how many lifetimes will my heart

be shackled to yours?

We suffer, we die. Are you to be honoured

for discovering this, as if you'd found a new country?

You left us with a kiss while we were sleeping.

The rosy dawn was terrible to me. O my vagabond,

should I have followed your example, left our son to drift

unfettered, without even my milk to nourish him?

Did you feel lighter as you wandered,

eating fallen mangoes, sitting with stray dogs

who pushed their noses in your palm

for salt? Whole philosophies of attachment

unbind the breasts of ordinary mothers

who will never do what you've done.

Idiot. He never knew your hands.

Yes, we will die, yes, there is pain.

You could have stayed home, Siddhartha.

You could have raised our son.


The Greek story of Persephone is usually told from her mother's perspective.

Persephone is abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld. Her grieving mother Demeter then neglects her duties as Harvest Goddess.

Hades is convinced to release Persephone, but having eaten some pomegranate, she must return to Hades several months each year, the winter of Demeter's grief.

But what if Persephone ate the pomegranate on purpose?

In Persephone we hear from a teenager determined to make her own choices. To Persephone, hell is leaving her boyfriend every year to be with a mother who doesn't understand her, and in a torrent of repetition and shifting camera angles, she unleashes the revelatory tirade she had played and replayed in her head.


by Rachel Rose

It was my sex that made you crazy, mother:

when I started doing in the dark what you did

to create crops, to blossom. I was supposed to stay

your small fruit, green and unplucked on the branch

until I was picked to bear. But I didn't want the fruit,

only the pollen, only the flowering, the nectar.

I wanted it always to be spring, never autumn, never harvest.

I stopped the throat of my womb with rocks

so I could bloom all over him.

It was hell only to you, who owned the language

of the fields, when I followed him down to the wet

bedrooms of the body. To me heaven was in the dripping

sweat of our smashed bodies, colliding, spent. I no longer

wanted the light. Or rather, just the first kisses of dawn, not full day,

not duty, not babies. When you came for me,

I followed, dragging my filial debt like a stone.

It was only at the door of light, his sweet seed

dried in my fist, that I hesitated, that I licked my own

salt-stained palm and returned to him, undead

which means alive, O alive to the body's hungers.

I cannot weed the garden for you, I cannot put up tomatoes

gather apples, fill your lap with grandchildren,

all I want is to die and die with him.


Shamhat, the temple prostitute in the ancient Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, plays an active role in the story only in the first two tablets.

It is she who, through sacred sexuality, tames the wild man Enkidu, taking him from his life with the animals and introducing him to the civilised world and King Gilgamesh, with whom he would go on to slay various monsters.

In Shamhat to Enkidu we hear from Shamhat long after she has left the story, as she takes us back to her past and gives us a vision of her future—our present—realising with regret how her gift to Enkidu did not have the result she had hoped for.


by Rachel Rose

Enkidu, come in from the desert.

Leave your scavenging

and crawl to my knees,

part my civilized rose. Cup

wet musk. Bring me your face.

You smell like a ram. I taste like cedar in the rain.

Look: I have fire, I have sex.

Wrestle me by the deep wells

for seven days and nights. I will tame you,

wild man, I'll drop fermented honey

into your mouth. Look: I have vocabulary.

My hair is hung with bells.

I have a silver knife and bowl.

I'll lead you to the man

who will be your best friend,

who will teach you the love of battle,

a power greater than my own.

You will forsake me for him

and then the word for what I am will be lost:

Harlot-Priestess, the one who knows the source.

Centuries later my only followers

will be forced to the profession:

Stolen girls, who grease their breasts

and dance around poles to tame men for money.

Bodies of my priestesses will be dumped

in alleys, stuffed in the trunks of cars,

left to bloat in rain. Men will thumb bills, cock

needles. There will be no worship in the act.

Enkidu, I should have left you with the beasts.

I was your touchstone, your red dust whore.

I gave you words so Gilgamesh could give you war.




Hair & Makeup by Shayna Coumont of Voila Lounge
Created By
Maggie MacPherson

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