A mother’s curse, killing children she had
Birthed, during time of war, swords drawn,
Spartans advancing upon my Corinthian
House. In Zeus-imposed madness, I have
Wandered far from home, amongst distant
Villages, thistle and thorn-slashed, for most
Egregious sins, killing Anya, our flower girl.
Oh madding plight! Her tented flower tables
Were turned asunder, blooms and baskets
Strewn across stone terrace. As beloved Anya
Huddled barefoot and afraid on archway steps,
She grasped my hand and fled, Spartans bar-
Raging our city gates, protection of guarded
As soldiers seized Anya, I thrust my dagger
Deep within her chaste breast. For this act of
Dutiful love, I was Jovian cursed, scorched
Lightning pain, aimless wandering, arduous
Countryside, mountain grazing fields, isolated
Greek fishing hamlets, begging on street
Corners for mercy, scraps of food and clothes.
Weary and forlorn, time transformed me into
A ragged woman, starvation and illness, until
That fateful day, I witnessed a young girl fall
From jagged cliffs into pounding surf. Running
Barefoot upon tortuous ledge, I threw myself
Into the ocean below to save her from sea-
Foaming depths, body-battering rocks.
Pulled under by swift currents, we swirled
And tumbled, life-threatened struggles, she
Grasped my out-stretched hand. By heaven’s
Miracle, upwards we swam, climbing to safe
Rocky shelf. Scraped and bruised, we held fast
To each other, until fisher-folk with heavy
Ropes, lifted us from unsteady craggy edge.
While mending nets on pebbled beaches, I
Realized that this lovely child was my salvation,
Risking all to save her from turbulent depths,
I also saved myself, ending Zeus’ wrathful
Curse. While Anya rests in heavenly sleep,
I have earned trusted love of Dionē and her
Fisher-family, life renewed on Ægean Seas.
This poem is a companion piece to “Anya: Love and Tragedy”
The narrator is the woman wearing the red tunic in Waterhouse’s
“A Flower Stall” painting.