Thursday, 30 January 2014

First Story: Iphigenia at Aulis

In my First Story session at St Augustine's yesterday we talked about the story of Iphigenia, which has always haunted me (and indeed it features a little in The Liberators.) There were some very interesting responses to the story, including a moving look at it from Clytemnestra's viewpoint, and a lusty Achilles. I came up with a short poem:

Iphigenia at Aulis

This morning
I dreamt flame.
The house on fire
My dress a halo.

I told my nurse.
“It’s love,” she said.
“For Prince Achilles.”

And when we left,
I saw an eagle pounce upon
A running hare.
I closed my eyes.


The fleet! The men, beery and bored,
Shouting. I caught a sailor’s
Eye. Black teeth, stunted limbs.

My father’s tent. Silken, gold,
Shimmering, a thing not meant for
War. And there he was.

Killer prince. Godborn spearstrong
Violent Achilles. My about–to–be
Husband. He took my wrist.

In his eyes, a fierceness, cold and
Bright. The men all roared.
The sea was calm. My heart.

The altar! Smoking, laden with
Fruits. My father, weeping. I wonder:
Where’s my mother?

I turn to where Achilles stands. His
Mouth is open. He points
Behind me. And then I know. 

I know the terrible 
inevitable chain has
Tightened, pulled, strained.

My father holds no wedding wreath.
In his grip a knife. My heart.
One moment. A shout, and hands

Not his, my dress ripped open,
Shadows on the stone
Everything shuts down.

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