Alice Friman

Clytemnestra, Unleashed
November 24, 2018 Friman Alice

Clytemnestra, Unleashed

Lovingly, she poured the scented
water into his bath, helped him off
with his robe, planting little kisses
across his back, then shot the bolt home
and went at him with an axe. His left foot
she grabbed first, then sloshing forward
on her knees, crawled over the fallen
mountain of his body, hacking away.
When the job was done, she stood before
the palace doors, dripping righteous
in the red evidence of her vengeance.

Always the simmering question—
what to do with her life, the endless
waiting for what the oracle promised,
what the stars writ large. One thing
she knew: the jailhouse pacing
on the parapets would stop, the dry
winds from the east that brought no news
would stop. For now at last, the giddy
joy of action: breathing hard, the sticky
handle of the chopper she’ll not put down.

Curse by curse, rattle by rattle,
the press of bones piled up behind her,
scraping and jostling for attention.
Time to clean out this house.
Sacrifice for sacrifice, murder for murder.

Her lover hid in the closet. The deed,
he said, being woman’s work.

Who could blame her?
Even the Grand Coulee Dam—
holding back and filled to choking—
would crack, groan, and yawn open.
It’s anger that leaps and rages, foaming
through the rift, churning the carcass
of a life into a high red boil of blood.
Woman’s blood. Unclenched, unyielding,
and unbuttoned. You better believe it.

Alice Friman’s seventh collection, Blood Weather, is forthcoming from LSU. Her last two books are The View from Saturn and Vinculum, for which she won the 2012 Georgia Author of the Year Award in Poetry. Other books include Inverted Fire and The Book of the Rotten Daughter, both from BkMk, and Zoo, Arkansas, which won the Sheila Margaret Motton Prize from New England Poetry Club and the Ezra Pound Poetry Award from Truman State University. She is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, is included in Best American Poetry, and is the winner of the 2016 Paumanok Award. Professor emerita of English and creative writing at the University of Indianapolis, she lives in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she was Poet-in-Residence at Georgia College.