Metatron Prize


for Rising Authors

 

 

 

 

 

Melinda

Freudenberger

 

Dog Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melinda Freudenberger graduated from The New School with their MFA in Poetry in 2020. Their work has appeared most recently in Anomaly, Always Crashing magazine, Spectra Poets, and the New Delta Review. You can find more of their writing on their website: melindafreudenberger.com

 

Who are you?
My name is Melinda. I’m a queer artist and poet living in New York City.


What is your book about?
Dog Woman tells the story of a woman who, following a traumatic event, splits into two versions of herself: BABY and Dog Woman. Living under the same roof, BABY begins to grow resentful of all Dog Woman represents that she would rather repress while Dog Woman, conflicted between the domestic and the bestial, learns how to come into her own in a body she didn’t ask for.


Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing this book?
The character of Dog Woman is inspired by Paula Rego’s painting series of the same name. Rego’s work crystalized the language I had been circling for years into something perfectly clear. Every past version of ourselves benefits from the healing work we are doing presently. Dog Woman is my little shadow, my little love, and my little mirror. Writing her helped mend parts of myself I didn’t think I’d ever be able to.


What are some books you’ve read and enjoyed lately and/or books that influenced the writing in your
submitted work?

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee was a big inspiration at the time of writing Dog Woman. I was undone by her willingness to experiment with form and narration while threading personal, cultural, and religious history. Cha’s writing is cinematic in scope—cameras panning left then right, prose fluctuating between medium and wide shots, extreme close-ups. The woman in Cha’s theater, seated seemingly alone until confronted with her double, “follows no progression in particular of the narrative but submits only to the timelessness created in her body.” The body’s memory is nonlinear and simultaneous.

 

How would you describe your book using emojis only?
💔🐕🚗🌳🪞🌹
 

Anything else you'd like to share?
One of Dog Woman’s central themes is the perpetuating of cyclical violence against the self. The rest of it, though, is about love and devotion. Every day I’m alive, I’m more and more certain that love is all we will ever have.

 

 

@poetpopstar (Instagram)
melindafreudenberger.com

 

 

 

 

DOG WOMAN

[EXCERPT]

 

 

 

 

CONTENT WARNING: The following writing references sexual assault and uses sexually-explicit language.
Please read at your own discretion.

 

 

 

 

 

dog-woman limps home
to her bed / news-
papers feathered like
soft pillows / her
oil lamps lit / i like
it like this
she says / whimpers
at the border
of it / evening draws
a shade over us / is
the glass of water i reach
for in the dark / there
is a god who closes wombs
like drawing curtains / that kind
of power looks good when
our cunt does nothing but
bleed / curled
up at my feet you are
innocent to the thought of
a different universe / your
unhinged devotion
blinding
even me — body
isn’t yours body is
someone else’s
you chew
dreamily on a bone
preoccupied with
another mouth
fixation / to find
the begging built in  
is just to find  
the instruction  
manual 

 

 

DOG-WOMAN: A MAN’S KEEPER 2

i adopt the position and move forward : behind arched / his
   drill mounted and readied / headphones-man’s baby was
born he says he’s / active in the fathering / what kind of movement
   between two people creates a third one ? / try to imagine
body riper than it is try to imagine / his baby as anything / other
than feral and mounted on a tree by a big nail in the neck / if i
   was made out of dust then to dust i will return or is that not
 how it goes / who here is the liar ? / headphones-man mentions
   a first birthday party he / cradles my face at his middle / this
 time he doesn’t push as hard / something like a / caress at
   the base of my neck / seems like third one makes the bruise
 more gentle / if i focus hard enough i can hear / the blue bird as
  the wind slams against the trees / and the sun goes up
   and the sun goes down and i return to the same hole 

 

 

when i first met her
she  called me baby / each  
syllable drawn
out in long
swords so i could
never mistake  
where it came  
from / knew its birth-
place as she suckled
at my breast / bayyy
beeee and emptied
me and teethed
for more / the root
word for areola  
comes from one
meaning a dry
barren land / dog-
woman flattens  
me into one act of violence
where i am both victim
and perpetrator / and
didn’t i know  
that already ? / how
long had she been
in the room / days
melt into
one another / her
hair matted / her l
egs sticky with
old wet / what
else should i do with
chronic sickness but
bury it / make
a doctor’s appointment

my psychiatrist replies /
conjures her pad for a
prescription
renewal 

 

 

DOG-WOMAN: A VISIT

doctor’s room / white and cold as the underside of the moon    
     — equally so : BA-BEE’s back to me / the sleeves of this shirt  
barely cover shoulders where skin meets black and      
     blue so / noticeable and so / tender body / is an island i am
stranded on     can i ask you how i was born yet / am i old
enough to finally contain it / you are in the room but not here
     with me : humming underneath your breath the song we
heard now miles away notes dripped on the curb in a silver
     mess / eager to leave me     aren’t you / behind you a
 single beam of light refracts through your cool sharp / surface
you still can’t look me in the eye if / anything i am your      
     historian / i am here to show you what you’ve done 

 

 

one of those mornings / un-
thinking / overthinking / a
pomegranate sits on our
kitchen table soaking
in rays of light waiting
to be split / dog-woman
watches me pluck  
and tweeze and scrub from
the bathroom doorway / how
long till i understand you if
ever / slow
to language you nuzzle
my calf / slower
to touch i slip
down / your cheek
in my hand my
brush gliding through
your hair snagging
on tiny islands of
dirt and rock / a flash
of yellow teeth / your
breath hot with old
meat / don’t
worry / your body  
is mine for only  
this second /  
elsewhere light  
still     filters on red  
fruit / the water in  
the bath warmed /i  
owe you

 

 

DOG-WOMAN: A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING    

     first time i met BA-BEE she kept me in her room had no idea what to do
with me / i trembled in from underneath / legs shaking aching to piss  
     and i looked into her / eye to eye / and she realized she was naked and she
hid / neither of us knew what form i would take but on hands and knees we    
     recognized each other / reluctantly she let me follow her into the kitchen  
where she slipped an oily meaty disc out of some plastic wrap and called it      
     bologna / dangling it in front of my face / strange to discover that i had  
a hole in the middle of me just for this and at the sight of my lips stretching      
     and teeth mushing she let go the most beautiful sound / a trill like someone  
had run their fingers over strings as they passed by and i / fell in love with      
     that sound / i didn’t know the term ‘falling in love’ at first / BA-BEE watches  
THE BACHELOR in which those who look like BA-BEE but are not BA-BEE      
     talk and meet mouths and hand each other flowers gripped up from the wild
earth’s clutches in order to communicate / tenderness / BA-BEE read to me      
     from the dictionary on good nights where she spilled the definition
of it : showing gentleness / sensitivity to pain / easy to chew / other uses : to    
     tenderize wherein BA-BEE grabbed her meat mallet to execute the concept on
a raw animal breast / BA-BEE was a machine / with each strike the breast was left  
     with spiked imprints / broken tissue / i am both the meat and the mallet and i under-
stand / but it’s too late / next she agreed to let me see the world / loading me up    
     into a giant mechanical mouth shutting the lid on me / the air inside of the mouth
smelled vaguely of cinnamon / and before i could ask any questions she got inside  
     too turned her hand till the mouth rumbled and glided us forward no legs /  
movement no exhaustion / entire lives passed me by : other / houses more      
     woods and the long paved pathways that got us there SO MUCH information
to take in it blew the mind backwards / absence of brain-wanderings / this is a car  
     ride BA-BEE said / my window slid open : yes i could call it / mine / the outside
leaked in highlighting the side of her face / beaming and yes the thing called    
     love leapt into my chest / love which i had never tasted before

 

 

The body is an eye. The body is two holes. The body is a large, empty stomach
that BABY has learned to fill for cheap. The ritual is always the same. Each can
of sweetened, condensed milk contains an average of 650 calories. BABY puts
1,950 calories on the conveyor belt at the grocery store every three days. It costs
$3.39. If each can costs $1.13, how many cans did BA-BEE buy? Portrait of the
three  now  opened  cans  on  the  kitchen  counter  top.  Portrait  of  glitter  and  fog
flipping  against  the  razored  metal  edges.  If  we  consider  the  house’s  presence,
we must consider there is always a voyeur. The ritual is the same, and the house
keeps a catalogue of its violations. BABY dunks two fingers in each of the cans,
starting  from  left  to  right,  the  milk  like  saliva  slung  among  the  cans’  lips.  She
sticks  both  fingers  in  her  mouth  for  the  first  taste. With  one  hand  gripping  
the first can and her other hand holding her nose, she pours it into her mouth, milk
dripping down the sides of her face when she misses. It is not a competition. It’s
about  the  opulence,  the  disregard—the  better  feeling  eating  at  the  small  tight
feeling to create a blackened hole of cellulitic nothingness. The body is a moat.
The  body  is  a  shield.  The  body  is  an  oozing  knight  in  armor  with  its  sugared,
bloated aura. If we consider the house’s presence, we must then consider there
is  always  a  witness:  Dog-Woman  had  cast  BABY  one  last  look. The  look  was
illegible. It contained multitudes. BABY the executioner turned her eyes to the
ground as Dog-Woman passed through the sliding glass doors quietly. 

 

 

DOG-WOMAN: A SINGLE LIGHT

bigger love will only come around once in a while / i stay
      i groom myself for it wait at doggie door for white treat !
i only saw it once / glimmering from in between the doorjamb / i
scratched and whined and you yelled HEY SHUT UP THE
      BACHELOR IS ON! and verily verily as i quieted down the light
fizzled like air leaking slowly out of a giant balloon / i watched
the light pass without coming through us / headphones-man  
      says that’s what makes me a good animal / the quieter
i am the easier it is : how different is BA-BEE ? hiding me away /
      from where do they both come the mold so similar sometimes  
i look and grit my teeth and then look again — could she    
      remember her eyes on me through the glass unwilling to open
the door ? she lowered herself   slowly   and began going down