Mary Ann Lyth and Mary Calvert
Renee Emerson

Mary Ann Lyth and Mary Calvert

        “Fourteen women have been brought to Mbua to be killed and cooked.”

So like a man to find a use
for every part of a woman.
They cooked them on the island,
sometimes right in front of missionary huts
to tempt Christian stomachs to growl
a gospel more primal than Bible.
Pyres of smoke tasted the salt air. Canoes
could not row fast enough, shores already
blanketed with the scent of feasting.
The missionary women pled and saved five
from the mouths of their neighbors,
but, as the king said, the dead are dead
and one way or another, on the final day
we will all be consumed.

Renee Emerson

is a homeschooling mom of seven and the author of Church Ladies (forthcoming from Fernwood Press, 2022); Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016); and Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her poetry has been published in Windhover, Poetry South, and other journals. She adjunct teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University and blogs about poetry, grief, and motherhood at