The Triple Goddess with a Bird’s Head, on My Dad’s Side

By Sue D. Burton

“. . . she circled the battlefield as a conspiracy of ravens to carry away the dead”
—Gregory Wright,

There were trainloads of us, my daddy said, heading
to “Hillbilly Heaven”—up to Akron in the 30s and the 40s—
lured by Tire & Rubber, but we were open-shop snakes (cheap) to
anybody who already worked the factories up there, though of
course once we got active in the union, we got dissed
for that, oh, it goes on and on—homesick— the
rubber bust—.

It’s what now we call the Great Appalachian Migration— but

by the time all that went down, we pretty much forgot
the Morrígan, that ancient Celtic goddess of battles and doom
who crossed the Atlantic with us and spent the next how-many-years
dirt farming in West Virginia. And the Morrígan, too, got
pretty much tamed down, though sometimes she just shows up,
on your doorstep, like the baby my friend gave up,
who thirty years later tracked her down.
And didn’t have a pretty story.

But why should the Morrígan—a feisty old gal
with the head of a raven—have a pretty story? My dad said
the Scotch-Irish (we Celts) had a fightin’ reputation.
Though now they say if you eat vegan, your microbes or
whatever are in sync and you pass for middle class.

I never went to war.
But I would like a bird’s head.
I’d like to think I had some magical mythical legacy, other than
Wonder Bread and bad-years Goodyear Tire. Though to what end? I
told my nice bourgie dentist once I wanted a gold front tooth.
I don’t think that’s a good idea, Sue, he said.

Sue D. Burton’s work includes the book-length poem Little Steel (Fomite Press) and BOX, selected by Diane Seuss for the Two Sylvias Press Poetry Prize and awarded Silver in the 2018 Foreword INDIES Poetry Book of the Year. Her poetry has appeared recently in Barrow Street, Bennington Review, and the anthology Choice Words: Writers on Abortion.

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