Katie Byford

Katie Byford

prologue   /unspeakable

in Orchomenos king Minyas has three daughters. they share the name Minyades.
in Orchomenos these daughters grow, become women.
in Orchomenos arrives the god Dionysos. he bids all women revel in his honour.
in Orchomenos the daughters of Minyas refuse to dance. the air vibrates with the god’s rage.
in Orchomenos the three women lock themselves in their halls. they weave and tell tales.
in Orchomenos their quarantine is interrupted. 
in Orchomenos their weaving turns to grapevines in their hands.
in Orchomenos the god infects the sisters with his fury.
in Orchomenos the women leave the house. the women commit unspeakable acts.
in Orchomenos they tear their sons apart and drink their blood.
in Orchomenos the god transforms these sisters into bats. they shriek and weave
                             their grief upon the air.
in Orchomenos the people call them oleiai—the mourning women.

index patient   /seropositive

we have been alone lifetimes and lifetimes      o     something has taken up in us
we have been left too long alone                   o      not alive but animate, conscious

                                                                                 o      in the fabric of us

we are a Princess of this Nothing, the colony   o     seroconversion
of Noughts that spills out from us                     o     blood pollution

daughters of the old quiet            undone            o     unbecome  

index patient   /oneiromancy

I know the woods of this place
frith and bough, visit them in my sleep
cackle through the nighttime din
my laughter echoes the forest’s shapes
new    new new   new           new new
my hand a pair of wings to catch
distances, the sacred dance to welcome 
madness in        He inspires it in us 
come sisters His blood is delicious        I am
returned to my roost bolt my mind 
from this ecstasy of eyes

we were told never to defy a god
and now the door is shut

KATIE BYFORD makes poems, films and other things. She is a former Barbican Young Poet, a Classics graduate and was the 2020 winner of the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. Katie’s first pamphlet, He Said I Was a Peach, was published in 2021 with Ignition Press.