Dylan Staudte, a Prison Education Project student currently incarcerated at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, Missouri, shared a piece of their poetry initially written for Dr. Meredith Kelling’s Critical and Researched Writing course in a collection of poems titled Origin Song and Other Poems of Becoming.

“Origin Song”

There’s something about stories

that have always drawn me.

Stories of gods and goddesses

and their messed up lives

would comfort me, would resonate

and elevate the chaos, somehow

making things sensible, beautiful, tangible.

So let me tell you a tale, an Irish one

I’ve woven into my own:

Moon goddesses, all goddesses, really,

tend to be both warriors and mothers

and my mother was no exception.

She bore a set of twins.

One was a glorious child of the sun

that she refused to name, 

and the other was the lucky one

who slipped off quietly into the sea.

The moon was not a good mother, jealous

of the piercing light of the one

and not really cognizant of the other.

Consider this – names are power

and you aren’t alive,

aren’t even a person

without one.

So how did the lucky one

get a name, 

and what made him so lucky?

Was it escaping to drift alone in the sea,

soothed by the rhythm of the waves

wafting his name, his identity:

Dylan, Dylan, Dylan?

I am the twin refused, wandering nameless

beneath a cold moon

searching for my brother, 

for the other half of me.

The tide tugs away my footprints, lifting

them up and out of the sand. I stare

into the waters 

and find him staring back at me.

A wave engulfs us in a gulp of sound,

entangling son and daughter, daughter and son,

enmeshing sky and water, sun and ground.

Let the moon glow cold and breathless.

Let her envy consume her

right down to her bitter core.

She cannot control us

for we are the lucky ones,

stronger for our sorrows, our triumphs

breathing as one breath with the waves

Dylan, Dylan, Dylan.