One of the last trips I made before the Covid-19 lockdown was to Tallahassee, Florida. My friend, poet Michael Rothenberg, took me to a magical spot, Wakulla Springs. During a boat tour of the freshwater springs its wildlife (alligators! manatees!), I learned that — because the water is so clear — the classic horror movie Creature from the Black Lagoon was filmed here for its underwater scenes.
I knew I would write a poem about it, but it was an amorphous idea. Until… I read a small note on Wikipedia that the woman who designed the famous Creature of the movie, the Gill Man, had been erased from cinema history by her disgruntled boss.
My poem, “Millicent Patrick Speaks of Monsters,” recently won honorable mention in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s annual poetry contest. I was thrilled!
Here is the poem, followed by some resources for further reading.
Milicent Patrick Speaks of Monsters
by Laura Shovan
The studio wanted
a sad, beautiful monster
for their black lagoon.
Imagine the lone, lonely survivor
of an ancient race–
half-man, half-fish, they said.
I sensed his presence. His
rough skin, deep gator green.
His dank, amphibious scent.
Special effects made the underwater suit,
but the creature’s face
belonged to me. It had to be hideous,
yet human enough a girl
could almost fall in love.
I sculpted muttonchop gills,
voluptuous lips, sorrowful, sloping eyes…
Read the rest at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s poetry page.
I recommend the biography The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, by Mallory O’Meara. (I listened to the audiobook.)
And if you love learning about important women whose stories have been lost to history — until now — check out the What’s Her Name podcast.
Thanks for joining the Poetry Friday link-up. You know what to do!