Helen Park’s work has appeared in BlazeVOX, Sleet Magazine, Inertia Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Hamilton Stone Review, Yellow as Turmeric, Fragrant as Cloves: A Contemporary Anthology of Asian American Women’s Poetry (Deep Bowl Press, 2008) and others. She is currently working on a novel loosely based upon three legend-worthy and chaotic generations of women in her family.
Epistle to Medea
the very rivers flow in reverse,
the seas churn black, salty black,
since you twisted that bulging,
alabaster neck of yours
away from the life facing you.
the leaves blew back
on spotted trees, yet the branches stilled,
on which you sat
in hiding with your knived teeth
pointed at that tightbody.
the ravens chorus that you, mad
avenger, with hands of steel, are
merely evil symbolic—flesh
incidental. you, as “woman,” were
bared lucid for the sake of drama.
you don’t actually exist
among the womanfolk, chorus
the ravens; the ravens, well,
you pulled that light cord
hanging in our hearts: the light
beckons the roaches from all corners
towards the center. their abdomens hiss
out fury, noxious yet sweet on the tongue.
you flayed your own born while
their cries and hands brushed your hair.
you looked them in the eye while
they, too, stared.
not one more of him
would truss you up with lilted
moans, mocking and erotic.
what we would do
to prevent ridicule; the self-
will is there—to bend the iron spike
towards our very beloveds,
towards the very middle of their foreheads.
their sweet, powdered-milk breaths,
their skin readily peelable
as ripe peach or warm grapes—
we can find the spearing resolve,
yes, to save face.
there must have been unearthly relish
gazing at him, their father, as something
dark and unearthly contorted his face,
like scrunching cheesecloth in the fist.
we do stand, in awe, at your conclusion.
2 thoughts on “Epistle to Medea”
Thank you Tricia. This piece came from some boiling corner in my guts after re-reading the play and wrestling with how I felt about her and her actions, e.g., bewilderment, horror, empathy, rage, vindication, etc.
Whoa. Strong stuff and the play on words at times is amazing. Good work.