Iphigenia’s Apology

“He loves power. A terrible love.”
—Euripedes, Iphigenia at Aulis

The day the great king sacrificed his child for favorable winds
in recompense for some gravid deer killed in a sacred grove;
—or perhaps the clean calculus of men with swords already thirsty, still a long voyage to Troy
and wasn’t it her aunt who started this whole mess in the first place
bitch Helen with her dimpled thighs so easily and so widely hinged;

those clustered close at the scaffold’s base would later swear: with dying breath
came not the feared but looked-for curse. Her only words, “I’m sorry.”

Dutiful, claimed royal hangers-on long accustomed to the eldest girl’s
guilty proclamations. Her contrition for being too loud, too soft
too much, too little
too argumentative, too acquiescent
too beautiful, too plain.
For the unset place when guests arrived unannounced.
For the household’s every unexpressed desire left untended-to.

Deranged, diagnosed the broader crowd. What other explanation for apologizing
to the descending knife, to the implacable pater,
to the mother who led her firstborn to a blood-soaked altar
before collapsing amid her ladies and liberal tippling
of sacrificial wine.

Despairing, thought one old woman as she stepped aside
from the black-robed chorus of her ululating peers.
Better that the sinned-against speak
than such a scene with no grief or guilt uttered at all. 

And Agamemnon? Did he struggle over her final words’ meaning
—if not then, his eyes already reckoning the sea’s horizon
his fingers already itching over war booty in gold coins
and women’s bodies;

—ten years later, sprawled dying across a bathroom floor,
smeared in spunk from one final ravaging fuck
shit-stenched from already-loosened bowels;

did he remember then
and know:

what woman’s rage first called down the Furies
and utter destruction of his House—



[The Myth & Fairy Tale Project is an ongoing collaborative project of reworking myths & fairy tales to understand, resist, and heal from trauma. Thanks to the Saturday writing crew, especially Amanda, for her “Apologies-Adjacent” writing prompt!]

Hello, dear ones.

Are you queued for getting jabbed? Have you gotten your jab already, or perhaps both? May this pestilence be brought to heel soon, and we all get on with surveying the wreckage. Deciding what of the past world we can remake—and what of it we should instead leave in that past.

A year ago, I thought I’d come out of isolation desperately wanting to get and give hugs. Instead I am finding myself choking with rage and frustration, remnants I’ve bottled up over both the past year and from much further back.

Making my very best effort to channel and exorcise the worst of it through writing before I find myself punching an unmasked stranger on the street…

Which would be, y’know (I certainly know!), B A D.

And how are you and yours approaching our impending release?

6 thoughts on “Iphigenia’s Apology

  1. Oh, this is wonderful! I bow before you Oh Alice…….

    I have had my first vaccine (early because I’m diabetic), the second is in May (we are doing a 12 week gap, not 3). Hubby had his in his age group, about a month after me. The UK has offered jabs to all over 50s now.

    Once we had given the majority of over 70s a first jab, the covid death rate plummeted. Infection rates have dropped too. We are now allowed to see family and friends, outside and in groups no larger than 6 people. So we are spending tomoorrow with our eldest son in his garden. Who cares if it’s snowing, it’s his birthday!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so pleased for you, that you’re getting to see family and friends and do so safely!!

      I’m relieved to be vaccinated myself too (second shot last week), though I’m still going very slowwwwwly with changing any of my isolation habits. Starting next weekend with a haircut I don’t give myself!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I purchased a hair clipper a year ago and can give myself a fairly decent all-over shave. But tryna come back from bald, I’m gonna need some professional assistance!

          Liked by 2 people

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