The Corinthian Women
“Shall I go in? Shall I go in? We should stop the murder of the children.” —The Chorus, Euripides’ Medea
Say what you like: that we were wretched, weak,
too quick to pity, that we envied her powers,
that the monstrous guilt as much as hers was ours
because we knew and knowing did not speak.
Of course you think you could have spared the child
squirming beneath the blade, destroyed the poison,
somehow suppressed her madness and her reason.
Call us barbaric all, feminine and wild.Say we’d gone in, say we had stopped the knife,
(don’t you think that we were desperate for that choice?)
she’d still have had her potions and her fury;
she’d still have found the means to wreck her life.
Our role was fixed: to flank the gates and worry,
to speak behind our masks in a single voice.
Copyright © 2018 by Chelsea Rathburn
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Chelsea Rathburn is the author of the poetry collections A Raft of Grief and The Shifting Line. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry, The Atlantic, New England Review, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. A 2009 NEA poetry fellow, she lives in the mountains of north Georgia, where she directs the creative writing program at Young Harris College.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham Poetry Review is a publication of The University of Alabama at Birmingham funded by the Department of English and the College of Arts and Sciences. It was founded by co-editors Robert Collins and Randy Blythe in 1987.
The journal includes original, unpublished work as well as translations. Beginning with Issue 39, BPR has included an interview with a featured poet of national merit as well as several reviews of current collections of poetry.
In past years, the journal has published work by poets of such national merit as Betty Adcock, Daniel Anderson, David Bottoms, Claudia Emerson, Debora Greger, Mark Jarman, David Kirby, Ed Hirsch, Andrew Hudgins, William Logan, Medbh McGuckian, R. T. Smith, Pimone Triplett, and Sidney Wade.