We were good daughters, once. Bent to the floor,
hand scrubbing your marble tiles,
hunched over the hearth fire, raking
extinguished gray coals.
a hint of complaint, never leaving
the confines of your homes. Laced inside
our coarse brown dresses
beat hearts of tangled roots, turning leaves
and creeping green vines.
All it took was one touch
from his pine cone tipped wand, one taste
of his bittersweet wine
and we were unleashed, running
through dense, drenched forests,
unraveling our tightly plaited hair.
We finally live without cares,
dancing beneath the wide, watchful moon
to the faint humming tune rushing
in our reedy veins. We circle
and twirl in one alive, laughing
mass, a tumble
of bare arms, half-drained wine skins
and soft, spotted panther hides.
Fathers, forget us.
We think of you, only in flashes,
after our long days of hunting
as we happen upon the one wandering man
waiting for us to pounce
in one sleek, hungry body,
tasting the honey sweet sorrow
steeped in his warm, vulnerable skin.
This poem is based on the Greek myth of the Maenads. Maenads were female followers of Dionysus, the god of wine and theater. They were driven to ecstatic frenzies, often hunting animals and tearing them apart with their bare hands. They are probably most famous for killing Orpheus (after the whole Eurydice thing) by ripping him limb from limb for not honoring Dionysus appropriately. Nice ladies.
I wanted to share this poem because I like the placement in the book. In Blameless Mouth, this poem immediately follows a poem about my time in college, with a group of women friends. While we weren’t tearing animals and people apart, we were engaging in our own small rebellions and testing our new freedoms together. The Maenads would probably be disappointed in our little revelries, but I like associating this time in my life with the myth.
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