from Hermione

Katy Gunn


The king, upon seeing the queen as rock, shouted, Her natural posture!

Too late, Paulina told him, the stone is mine.

Since the banquet at which their first cubs were eaten, women have been at work baking substantial breads and feeding them to men to satiate / retrain their hunger. The scholar told Hermione that this is how some cultures explain the situating of women in the home / the persistence of women.

The king, upon seeing the queen’s transformation from rock to meat, shouted, If this be magic, let it be an art / lawful as eating.

The mother bear has a tongue for art, but she does not taste her cub the same way men do.

The verb bait derives from beit (food) / beita (to chase) / both. It continues to mean both to torment, as in bear baiting, and to feed an animal with a trap, often before eating her, as in -mione.

Holding onion buns in both her hands, Paulina said it was time / love / sorry.

Far beyond sixteen winters, Paulina stole bread that continued to harden, even though she had a new husband with appetite. They patronized the bear garden together. The bread continues to harden. In addition to to torment and to feed an animal with a trap, the term bait is also an alternative spelling of bate, which means to flap the wings in an attempt to escape from the perch.


She reverted to rock with sundown. A three-quarter turn to the window, where he would have had her placed if she had stayed statuary. He never asked her to.

But when her shadow grew to the opposite wall and seeped into that rock, he pulled her to his chest like a monument felled. The air in her knees was rock. Her wrists grew back to her hips and she did not have elbows anymore.

This is not true but it is scholarly. The present is easier when it follows a history. She knew she could not move her limbs under him because she had not moved her limbs under him all winter.

He hooked his own soft wrists in her armpits and dragged her backwards on her heels. This always was, for what it was, gentle.

But her cunt was a rock. It was the oldest rock, made when dried blood continues to dry. It was both the rock on which cave drawings appear and the rock that is ground into the only dye cave rock will hold. Her cunt was / is plastered with bears. Some of the bears are folded into the rock as the images of long-dead animals will sometimes fold into rock. A bear. A bear. A bear standing up.

A man with a spear. Pointing at a bear. The only dye cave rock will hold is made from cave rock scratched to dust by the end of a spear and then mixed with spit on the end of that same spear.

Every other form of dye is the wrong form.

A man with a spear. One dog, his companion. No, it is a bear he has felled. It is still his companion.


Hermione lay stiff in her husband’s bed until morning. Alone in her husband’s bed at midday, she felt the pricks of the hairs Paulina shaved away. She pulled on her breast until the base was a sore pink ring, and she stretched her nipple to the dry crack of her mouth.

That she is living, Paulina said, were it but told you, should be hooted at / like an old tale.

She thought about gardens. Her nipple hardened to a point. But it found no spit in there.

The hairs on her breast, underground, where she is dead again, grew back / will grow back. And with her bones prove hardest for the ground to disperse.

But it appears she lives / though yet she speak not.

Sometimes an old bat in a cave will take hold of its dying. He slams himself into the wall or some red image on the wall until he crumples small enough to fall between the rocks. Then he may be pressed, a fossil.

But first: Look down / and see what death is doing.

Leontes bashed his wet cock against her until it turned back to flesh, and then he sat on her knees, doubled over, holding his pain in both of his hands.



Perdita was married to her love, Paulina was married to her new husband, and Hermione was married her old husband to satiate the audience, but the play continues to be represented, and then another sixteen winters, comic ending / sixteen winters, comic ending / sixteen winters, four hundred years.

Scholars have proposed that the sudden appearance of the bear onstage signals regeneration after harsh winter. Or represents the disapproval / approval of Mother Nature for the unnatural / natural savagery of Hermione’s / Paulina’s first / every husband.

Those who have played Paulina’s first husband, the man pursued by the bear, have been pursued over time by representations such as a puppet bear / a mechanical bear / smoke / a bodiless roar /

Scholars have suggested that the bear is meant, in its few seconds onstage, to make the audience doubt itself and ideally then consider the natures of fear and delusion, particularly the delusional fears of Hermione’s husband, and her real fear. This works best if the bear on stage is a real bear.

a real bear / a sheet of dark silk / a beaten rug /

Others point to the framing of the play as a winter’s tale (also wives’ tale), from a genre in which fantastical elements such as sprites, spooks, transformations, magic portals, and bears often feature / are devised to enliven the cold heart / -h.

To flap the wings in an attempt to escape from the perch derives from batre (to beat).

/ a dog in bear costume / Leontes in bear costume / another man in bear costume / another man in unremarkable clothes /

Some scholars argue that the sudden appearance of the raging bear was staged to make the audience laugh, but others, who have not paid much attention to accounts of bear baiting, cannot imagine how it could have that effect.

sorry / love / it is time, Paulina said.

To beat, of course, refers to the heart during periods of time when it / she is not dead.




There are many interesting Hermiones. These pieces are from one section of a project about them. [Here] is a rough index.