Iphigenia

This story is paired with Chapter XX of Bulfinch’s Mythology. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 


I.

Father, how dare you?
With the dawn I journeyed down to you,
to Aulis and the mirrorsmooth sea.
I walked the last few paces up the hill,
over the rise and onto the rocks.
I cast my sight upon the waiting waters.

Children wrapped my body in garlands.
My footsteps echoed a beating heart
while at the land’s edge
foam curled and dried at the soldiers’ feet.
A command of thousands scarcely breathing
beneath a cloudless sky.

I shimmered in my bridal white,
daubed with jasmine oil.
My ladies gathered near me
smiling, until they too
saw those grim faces upturned
to my arrival.
Silence then,
and sunlight.

Father, you stood in their midst, blazing
with eagerness
for bloody war,
for the winds.
For a brother’s crown,
you would barter my life.

There, your anchored ships
needlessly chained to a sea that did not stir.
You armada deadly, yet impotent:
masts rising high, hung with slackened sails.

 

II.

Let none believe that I was afraid,

 

or that I faltered, or trembled,
when I saw behind you the wrong altar,
and I understood what you meant to do.
I choose this,
not you.
And yes, at my back,
a whisper laughing around my bare ankles,
then a blade-cold breeze whirling in my garments.

My skin singing beneath the billowing folds of my dress,
I carried thunder in my small hands.
I unleashed the storm,
thrashing in a blacklit halo of rage.
Seasons flew like memories,
the emotions of a youth spiraling to nothingness.
My anger surged in the sea,
and the sailors,
under a heaven of lightning,
heard the fury of my screams.

I turned the day to night,
and I glowed like a shredded stormcloud
shifting across the moon’s face.
My ladies fled in horror,
into the stinging dust
lashing the rocks in whorls and whipcracks.

Father, as you raised your glittering knife,
did you hear, distantly on the ocean,
the ships begin to rock and pull at their chains?
The booming chaos of my waves,
the churning green water bruising the hulls,
gales as fierce as giant’s blows,
the howling of those straining chains?
Like the sobbing of a mother for her child.

 

III.

Grey wings, lifting.
Guarded but forsaken by seabirds tossed in my storms,
I let go my full torment and tore the flowers from my hair,
ran headlong, shrieking, down into your reaching arms
hard and cold as the altar and smelling of death.

 

Let no one whisper that I was a victim.
Instead I would write in my blood,
magenta in this blue squalling light,
mingling with kelp and bitter brine:
I went willingly to your altar, Father.
You will never die so bravely as I.
Justice has a woman’s voice,
revenge, a woman’s smile.
Let my name be read aloud into the tempest.
I will carry you to battle and back again.
I will be watching
until that day when those who truly loved me
seek you out, calling upon my form.
Until that day, Father, when you are lost on my winds.


NBR4NaughtonsmallCarrie Naughton has been a retail clerk, cook, librarian, teaching assistant, farm apprentice, and office manager. Now she’s a freelance bookkeeper who writes speculative fiction and poetry. The harrowing journey into the bookkeeping world led her to seek refuge in the book writing world, while hopscotching around the American West.