"Iphigenia"

I suppose

you had your reasons.

You needed to sail free,

to get on with things.

One mustn't waste time —

one mustn't fuss.

Good girl, good girl,

step right up. Don't fuss.

I hoped one of you would

slip through the crowd and

hide the ax again and again.

I hoped one of you would

weave flowers through

my hair and whisper

beautiful one, brave one

into my tender ears.

I hoped my mother would

discover the imminent savagery

and demand vengeance.

(Does a woman get vengeance?)

Hope bleeds out, too,

my family.


Now the gusts have come

to bear all of you away.

The last of my breath

will follow you onto land,

sighing please remember,

but you will brush it

away from your ears.

That breath will burrow

into the loamy earth

to feed your hungry roots —

you will rise like mighty oaks,

a forest of prosperity.


You will never thank me.


*In Greek mythology, King Agamemnon of Greece sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia so that the goddess Artemis would release his stranded ships and allow them to sail to Troy.

"Iphigenia" first published in The Indianapolis Review

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