No Gods, no Heroes,
only women and Hector
The misdirected vengeance of Hera.
Grey-eyed Athena’s wrath and jealousy,
and Dionysus, bringer of merciless punishment –
(feral mother ripping the limbs from her son, unknowingly,
but when awakened, an internal bonfire grief
Hector was the only noble hero –
shouldering his course and obeying his love.
Crafty Odysseus tossed baby-Astyanax from the towers of Troy.
Crazed Achilles knew only the fury of his passion as he
flooded Scamander with the cut-up corpses of his mad rage.
Ajax the Great impaled himself in service to his affronted ego,
and Ajax the Lesser – a coward rapist of the prophet pure Cassandra.
Give me one-eyed blindness, stay on the path, past
Hecuba and her wild rivers of unfathomable suffering – childless
when once a mother of many, Queen of an honoured realm.
Give me Electra over Hera with her young-woman’s devotion
and subterranean heart, tied to a father that would have killed
her as he did sister-Iphigenia
on the pyre-offering of war, victory and fame.
Give me a settled glory – my God of Mercy instead of candles, Jesus
instead of Apollo’s thick sensuous thighs or golden curls,
demanding matricide of Orestes.
Give me Helen in her betrayal of red-haired Menelaus, Helen,
daughter of the Swan, lover of pretty-boy Paris, Helen,
mascot and scapegoat of war, but never the cause.
Give me Clytemnestra over Agamemnon, daughter
too of the Swan, bearer of a mother’s authentic wound –
Iphigenia lost on the bloody rock
by obeyer-of-Zeus, mighty-father
Agamemnon’s royal hand.
Zeus, kind only to sycophants,
Zeus, serial adulterer, user of woman,
sire of many children, lusting as the sunlight lusts
for Earth, to seep warmth into her crust
and heat up the whole of her surface,
demanding offspring life.
Give me Penelope over
Penelope, with her patient intelligence weaving,
unweaving, keeper of fidelity
for twenty years, holding her own
up against the plight of a woman’s, even a Queen’s,
Give me steadfast Antigone,
crowned by an ancestral curse,
champion of funeral rites,
brother’s defender, daughter-guide,
caregiver of a doomed once-king,
embracing her savage fate with magnificence.
Give me poor Io, chased in her heifer-frame
from flat plains to cliff ridges
to Prometheus’s cursed crucifixion to
finally a resting point in Egypt –
Poor Io, ancestor of the brute-blooded Hercules,
who claimed madness-by-Hera turned him
into a murderer of his wife and sons,
who was no Hector, only
Give me Andromache’s zodiac-fingerprint,
for she held Hector inside the cavity of her loins,
and he loved her, and for a time, they both knew
© 2020 by Allison Grayhurst
First published in “Chicago Record Magazine” January 2020