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Artemis at the University - Margaret Coombs

I stride to campus with swinging hips,

ignore the honks, the heckling. It is summer

and I am wearing a sun dress embroidered

in green and yellow, the color of the afternoon

sun filtering through leaf-heavy branches

in the park. I brush my skirt with naked

arms, feel it flutter against strong, bare

legs. From a distance, no one sees

the militance of my unshaven armpits, weapons

to repulse those who seek to weaken

my defenses. They are power granted me—

to make of my body an instrument

of contradiction fatiguing to decode. No human

will succeed at deciphering such a virgin

as me. And so my long hair flows

behind me as I gallop over gray sidewalks.

Every day more free. Every day more fierce.

Every day more lonely.


Margaret Coombs is a poet and retired academic librarian from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the city of her birth, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, was published in 2020 under the name Peggy Turnbull. She now uses her birth name as her pen name to honor the poet she was as a young woman. Recent poems have appeared in Wisconsin Poets Calendar, The Solitary Plover, Amethyst Review, and Medusa’s Kitchen. She is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association.


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