Monday, 31 March 2014


I know, I know... Two blog posts in as many days, how unlike me. I found this poem though, which I wrote when playing Clytemnestra for The Rose Company, and not having looked at it in months I'm still quite proud of it, so...

The Murderess

He was always killing, my second husband. It was the only language he understood.
Words he bent and twisted to mask his intent; gold is a soft metal.
Swords he could speak in, held erect in his fist.
Edges he understood, and partings. Blood he listened to.

He killed my first husband, they remember that. He killed my son.
I'm told that is what lions do.
I never spoke my child’s dear name again. I will not say it now.
I keep the memory, hot and heavy in my womb.
I have swallowed coals.
One coal I carried long - an agony cherished, and then one more; a girl.

I mourn the children lost to sickness, too, and the struggles of the birthing bed,
I carry their weight still, of course they haunt me.

Only my murdered children blaze and burn.
Only the ones he killed consume me.
My boy’s name is forgotten now and mine alone, but hers...
She always wanted fame, my daughter.

He took me away with him, of course. They say he made me wife.
My baby's blood still speckled in his beard when he first raped me.

My brothers swore revenge. So rumour said.
And I, the spoils, rejoiced to hear it.
But kings are practical men, or they die young, and my father made arrangements.
The city his to keep, and in all honour, provided he called me wife and queen, sat me beside him.
I would have rather died - but no such choice was offered.
Revenge is men's work.

I know they say that I was angry to be set aside.
I will not leave that lie behind me.
His concubine, the prophetess, I killed in love.
She laughed and thanked me when she saw the blade, with her own hands she drew it to her throat.
She died a captive like myself, rejoicing in the blood that freed her.

He did not know me at the end. I could not risk it.
He was a strong man still, tempered by battle.
I dosed his wine, and so he died asleep, drowning in blood and water.

I too had learned to read the blade, it spoke as I had honed it; and as for blood,
it’s women’s native speech. He was fool to think that he could out-debate me.
I wish he had not slept so sound, that I had seen his eyes meet mine before I dimmed them.
That would have pleased me, that one look.
Revenge is men’s work. I killed him in the name of my son,

and for Iphigenia.